Anger swells over impunity in post-war Sri Lanka

The senseless slaying of two young men in Angulana, Sri Lanka, and the abduction and beating of an IT student has resulted in public outrage. The Sri Lankan Police force can no longer hide behind the culture of impunity that existed when the island was at war.

Despite the notion that journalistic freedom is non existent in Sri Lanka, the local media rightfully came out with all guns blazing. Despite claims in the past that the critics of the police or the government feared for their lives, all non-state publications openly criticised the government and the police force.

A recent spate of violent incidents implicating police has spawned a wave of public fury and angry editorials -- rare under a government that in wartime was quick to brand critics traitors.

"The inescapable reality is that with normalcy or near-normalcy restored, the people are now opening their eyes to cases of police violence against ordinary people," the Sunday Island newspaper said this week.

"What we need now ... is to clean this clearly disintegrating system."

On Monday, a court remanded 11 police officers accused in the abduction and torture of a student over a dispute with the son of an influential police officer. The senior officer was transferred but not charged, a police spokesman said.

Last week, residents of a Colombo suburb stormed a police station and blocked trains to protest the killing of two men. Local media reported the men had heckled the girlfriend of the police officer in charge of the station.

The two victims' bodies were found the day after police arrested them, bearing bullet wounds and evidence of torture.

Seven officers including the officer-in-charge were arrested and remanded on charges of criminal links -- but not in the deaths of the two men. A police spokesman declined to comment, saying the case was under investigation.
It's about time politicians such as Mervyn Silva, who hide behind thugs and underworld criminals, are also reminded of the rule of law. As long as people with authority roam the streets of Sri Lanka with a preconceived notion that they are above the law, Sri Lanka's post-war dreams of economic growth and a better quality of life for all will never be realised.

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