| A Statement Issued by the Lawyers for Democracy (LfD)
( March 14, 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) ‘Lawyers for Democracy’ (LfD) is gravely concerned with the breakdown of law and order and the rising cases of abductions in Sri Lanka. On 11th March 2012 media reported of the failed incident of a ‘white van’ abduction in Kolonnawa/ Wellampitiya where the suspects were subsequently handed to the police by the public. LfD has since come to learn that the police have released the suspects at the order of a senior police officer without producing them before a court of law.
The spate of recent abductions and disappearances is alarming. In January and February 2012 alone eleven cases of abductions have been reported from across Sri Lanka with at least seven of these cases being linked to ‘white vans’. These incidents have received attention as a result of the Government of Sri Lanka coming under increased scrutiny recently of their human rights record. According to a report issued in February 2012 by the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, 5671 cases of involuntary disappearances remain outstanding in Lanka. The ongoing abductions including the failed attempt in Wellampitiya confirms a culture of impunity with which perpetrators operate, raising questions to the nexus with the Defence authorities. This failed attempt in Wellampitiya further confirms the role of Government security forces in abductions in Sri Lanka.
LfD sees this present incident as another that erodes the criminal justice system in Sri Lanka and exacerbates the culture of impunity, and a further confirmation of the politicization of the police in Sri Lanka. The continued practice of having the police and the military within the Ministry of Defence is a further worrying practice and complete disregard of the recommendations made by the Government’s own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). In its final report issued in November 2011, the LLRC specifically states that the police force should be outside of the purview of the Defence establishment, a recommendation like so many others that have yet to be implemented.
In light of this dangerous situation with the rising number of abductions and culture impunity, LfD calls on the Government to immediately address this trend and to prosecute those who are involved in such incidents.
‘Lawyers of Democracy (LfD) is a representative body of legal practitioners throughout the island. Conveners include Lal Wijenayaka, Chandrapala Kumarage, K.S. Ratnavale, J.C. Weliamuna, Sudath Netthisinghe and Sudarshana Gunawardana. It was established on 10th December 2009.