SRI LANKA: The president and the Inspector General of Police should bear responsibility for the attack that resulted in a killing in Hungama 

The killing of even one person signals a turn for the worst in the presidential election in Sri Lanka. The attack on the bus carrying the supporters of the opposition candidate was carried out in a manner that reeks of the organized violence practiced in previous elections. The failure of the police to provide protection remains the major cause of such violence. The Inspector General of Police and the high ranking police officers appear to have identified themselves openly in support of the incumbent president in this election campaign and this carries both a negative and obvious message to the rank and file of the police throughout the country. This will remain the major cause of violence during the elections and it is the duty of the election commissioner, as well as all those who are engaged in the monitoring of the elections. to intervene strongly with the police to ensure that they conduct themselves as required by law to assist in the process of free and fair elections.

Although the president is reported to have condemned this violence, this will hardly suffice as the president has a habit of condemning of such acts of violence on previous occasions when he has deemed it politically correct to do so. However, this has not been followed by any resolute action as required of a head of state to ensure law and order and to stop violence.

In fact, the conduct of the election campaign on behalf of the presidential candidate is being done in an abusive manner with abundant and blatant abuse of state resources and provocative statements being made constantly by the president himself and his closest supporters.

The Inspector General of Police has not exhibited the type of conduct that is expected of the highest ranking officer of the police service who has the command responsibility to ensure that the election is conducted in a peaceful manner, and that all the electors have the freedom to exercise their roles within a framework of security. The prevalence of violence should be directly placed on the failure of responsibility on the part of the Inspector General of Police.

Repeatedly, Sri Lankan people have been forced to face elections in an atmosphere of extreme violence. This attack on a bus at Hungama and the death of Kusumawathi Kurupuarachi (a 58 year old mother of five) should be treated as signal of the campaign of further violence and all steps must be taken in order stop such violence forthwith. It is the duty of the police to arrest all those who were involved in the violence as well as all those who organized and instigated this attack.

According to initial reports, this attack was organized by some powerful political figures in the area. All these persons should be arrested and brought before court. The failure on the part of the police to carry out efficient investigations subsequently make arrests would amount to abandonment of their basic duties.

The Asian Human Rights Commission calls upon the Sri Lankan citizens and the international community to take serious note of this murder and to do all they can to stop the spread of violence during this election.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-006-2010
Countries : Sri Lanka,