A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
(January 01, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian) All Sri Lankans will wish that the coming year will not be like the last one and, in fact, that it be different from previous years also, years in which deep insecurity has been prevailing due to the failure of the political system, resulting in serious problems in the legal system. People reduced to powerlessness will want to regain their powers, those which should exist within a democracy rooted on a rule of law system. We fervently hope that their dream to move out of repression will come to be realized in this new year.
We hope that the deepest wish of all Sri Lankans, which is to see the abolition of the 1978 constitution, will be realized this year, thus paving the way for the following benefits for all the people:
- Replacement of the rule of one man with the rule of law;
- Replacement of judiciary which is under the control of executive president with an independent judiciary functioning under the principle of separation of powers;
- Replacement of the Attorney General’s department, which is under the control of the executive president, with one that is independent and capable of performing its obligations as required under a rule of law system;
- Replacement of the policing system, which is now dysfunctional due the control of the executive president, with one run under the command responsibility of the superior officers as required under the rule of law;
- Replace all public institutions, such as civil service, election commissioner’s office and others which are presently tightly controlled by the executive president, with independent commissions as required by the rule of law;
- Replace the Commission against Corruption, which is incompetent and helps to spread corruption, with an independent institution, with legal powers and resources. Such an institution should have no link to the police and inquiring officers should not be recruited from the police. The staff of such an anti-corruption agency should solely belong to that agency and it should create opportunities for staff promotion and disciplinary control within itself.
- Urgently undo the factors that contribute to the present state of widespread murder, kidnapping, forced disappearances, rape and brutal crimes;
- Stop the speared of the trade of illicit drugs which takes place now with the sponsorship of powerful politicians and some state agencies;
- Restore the capacity of the police to investigate crimes competently by removing the political obstructions of the their work and providing human and other resources.
- Provide adequate funding for all institutions, engaged in administration of justice, such Judiciary, Attorney Generals Department, Police and the Prisons to enable them to provide efficient and satisfactory services to community;
- Remove special powers to such agencies as Special Task Force (STF) and bring such institutions under the control of the higher command of the police;
- Bring all provinces under civilian police control and remove the military from performing civilian police functions;
- Deliberately end the ideology of “closing the electoral map”, remove obstacles against free and fair elections and alleviate the popular fears about fake elections;
- Create the possibility of equality of all before law, irrespective of gender, race or ethnicity, and thereby make democracy a possibility again in Sri Lanka;
- End the surveillance, intimidation, murder and the causing of other harm to journalists and remove all obstacles to freedom of expression and publication, and thus ensure peoples’ right to information;
- End the widespread torture and ill treatment by the police by implementing the recommendation made to the government by the United Nations Committee Against Torture at its 47th Session;
- Ensure protection to women, particularly by preventing sexual harassment when using public transport services, by ensuring the proper handling of complaints relating domestic violence and rape, and ensuring equality before law in all aspects of life;
- Ensure the rights of minorities by de-militarizing the North and East, creating access to media, pursuing credible measures for rehabilitation of every one suffering due consequences of war, releasing all prisons who have not been brought before courts for trial and ensure credible inquiries into all allegations of violations of human rights;
These are the minimum requirements for ending the repression and ensuring basic freedoms to all the people of Sri Lanka.