New IGP must be blemish free - BASL tells President

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has written to President Ranil Wickremesinghe to highlight the importance of the next Inspector General of Police to be an officer whose service in the police force is exemplary and free of any blemish and able to restore public confidence in the police. With current IGP C.D Wickramaratne scheduled to retire on 23 March, the BASL said it is of utmost importance that the best possible appointment be made to that office. The letter signed off by the President of the BASL Saliya Peiris PC noted that during the last few decades, there has been a serious erosion of public confidence in the Sri Lanka Police. The Association said the lack of independence, politicisation, police brutality, custodial deaths, and lack of professionalism have all contributed to the erosion of public confidence in the Police.

The BASL said it is of the view that public confidence in the Police is vital for the administration of justice and the rule of law. It also noted that the Sri Lanka Police has had a practice that the promotions of police officers who are named as suspects or accused in criminal matters or are respondents in Fundamental Rights applications such as those relating to illegal arrests and torture are withheld during the pendency of such applications. “Similarly promotions of officers who have a blemished record in the Sri Lanka Police are regularly withheld. The BASL is of the view that the same or higher standards must be adopted by the Executive in appointing the Inspector General of Police,” it said.

The BASL urged the President to ensure that no officer who has pending Fundamental Rights or criminal cases against him or any allegations of involvement in unlawful activity be appointed to the office of the Inspector General of Police. It also called for the appointment of the new IGP and all other appointments to key offices to be done in a transparent manner so as to establish public confidence in the appointment process.

“The BASL is also of the view that prior to the approval of the appointment of the Inspector General of Police that the procedures to be followed in regard to recommendations or approvals for appointments under Article 41B or 41C should be determined by the Constitutional Council as provided for in Article 41E(6) of the Constitution. The BASL is of the view that such procedures and processes should be in the form of rules relating to the performance and discharge of the duties and functions of the Council as provided for in Article 41G (3) of the Constitution,” it further added.