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DateLine Sunday, 6 July 2008





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Priority for law and order

Vowing not to leave room for any policeman to engage in bribery and corruption, the newly appointed Inspector General of Police, Jayantha Wickramaratne says that no politician can influence or interfere with any inquiry or any other matter relating to the police.

The former media spokesman of the Police, IGP Jayantha Wickramaratne said that investigations to probe abductions and disappearances would not be delayed at any stage and pledged to carry out the investigations in a very transparent manner.

Pix: Chaminda Hittatiya

“The Police have a free hand and no one is allowed to interfere in its work”, he told the Sunday Observer.


Q: As the new IGP what do you think your major challenges are?

A: I have to give the top priority for the prevailing security situation and to maintain law and order to provide a peaceful environment for the innocent civilians.

The LTTE activities are on the increase and there had been unfortunate incidents where the civilians were the victims. Our priority being mainly a law enforcement agency is to maintain law and order in the country. This is our principal target.

My second priority is to concentrate on the basic welfare facilities of the policemen. They are working under severe stress and they are the only government servants who have to perform duties for long hours without an adequate pay and have also to work under difficult circumstances.

For example, they are working for more than 12 hours in bunkers, doing traffic duties under hot sun while not getting additional remuneration.

Third is there are lots of educated police officers such as under graduates and graduates as well among the lower ranks of the police force. I shall give due recognition for their educational qualifications and provide whatever assistance to them to enhance their knowledge.

I am hoping to get additional funds from foreign donor agencies like SIDA to provide them training courses on human rights and to improve their knowledge on fingerprint technique, investigating procedures and in other specialised fields.

I also intend to solve the housing problem, which affects them very much. Though it needs a huge capital investment, I hope to solve their housing and official quarters problem on an area basis.

The other priority is to further expand the strength of the Police force. It is a very essential requirement as we are to take in some areas which were liberated by the military.

We have to be set up new police stations in those areas and we need more manpower. They should be given specialised training on special search operations to ensure the security of vital installations and also to strengthen VVIP security. Therefore, we need lots of police officers.

Q: Do you see any particular shortcomings in the present system within the Police force?

A: Whatever the shortcomings we have observed, have been highlighted in my answer. Such shortcoming have to be addressed step by step, I believe.

Q: No doubt the image of the Police is fast deteriorating. What are your plans on the cards for image-building?

A: Yes. After assuming duties I have issued a circular to give affect to Presidential Commendations for the Police officers who have successfully conducted raids on LTTE hide-outs and made excellent detections. Very recently the Police have been able to recover 300 kgs of deadly explosives and this quantity is more than what was used for the Central Bank bomb explosion.

Our police officers who made such detections have to be given special Presidential commendations especially to encourage, motivate and also to set as an example to the others.

When they received such impressive commendations they will be entitled to more ‘marks’ and more recognition for their promotions. They will be eligible for scholarships as well. By doing this I want to encourage my officers to go for more detections.

Q: That is of course to encourage them, but what are the steps to build the image of the Police?

A: These steps will be the end-results of the image buildings. When the police officers are treated well and given due respect, they will not surely resort to bribes, which are mere short-term financial gains!

But, if they can work hard and show their talents they can earn more. They need to be honest too. Then they can derive long term benefits. Ultimately all these will lead to a better image of the Police force.

Q: After the recent incident of attacking university bhikkus at a demonstration, the President has ordered not to deploy riot squads when there are protests staged by the clergy and the university students. But if they turn violent how are you going to deal with them?

A: Really what the President told us were not to use tear gas and water canons when the university students and monks are staging demonstrations. He has also asked us not to harass them as they have been misled. We have to understand the mentality of these youngsters. The reality is that they have been used by various politicians to fulfil their ambitions.

What we plan to do is to send a few of their representatives to meet the relevant authorities. For example, the university students can meet the UGC Chairman instead of taking law into their hands. But the police always have to think of minimising the inconvenience caused to the public in such occasions.

Q: According to the reports of the Commission of Bribery and Corruption the police officers have been ranked No. 1 for taking bribes! Why do you think they indulge in this?

A: The fact is that unlike other State officers, the Police officers have lots of involvements with the people. So they have more chances for this. On the other hand, the person who is offering a bribe to a Police Officer is also responsible for this illegal act.

However, the Police Department will soon launch a programme to educate the public on this matter. The Commissioner of Bribery and Corruption will also be instructed to further net those police officers who take bribes.

I will take stern actions against those police officers and no one will be allowed to escape. Neither my high officials nor do I tolerate those who are up to such mischief. We want the Police to be an honourable service.

Q: Is that because they are getting a poor salary compared to other forces? If so, what are the steps that you propose to give them a decent salary?

A: This is an issue to which I cannot give you an exact answer and I alone cannot take any decision in this regard. In the meantime, we have to understand the financial situation of the country. It is our duty to go through some sort of hardships and to contribute our lot to this struggle to defeat terrorism.

When a country is on a war-footing and spending millions and the millions of money to prosecute the war for the sake of the future of the people and territorial integrity of the country, we have to undergo some sort of difficulties.

In such a situation, I cannot pressurise the government for a salary hike, but I am considering some sort of other means to provide financial assistance to my men. The Department of Police has other ‘reward schemes’ where the officers who are hard-working can get extra financial assistance.

Half of the fines from the cases that they filed in Courts will go to the Police Reward Fund and we are giving huge amounts of money as rewards to the police officers who do good detections.

The rationale behind such rewards is to give them some sort of financial assistance as well as to dissuade them from indulging in illegal activities like taking bribes. However, I am planning to increase the number of financial rewards to prevent them from resorting to bribery.

Q: But do you agree that they are getting a poor salary and that has influenced them to take bribes?

A: Compared to other government servants, their salaries are not so impressive and also not upto the required level. This is the problem. But that does not mean that they should take bribes. What I want them to realise is that those police officers who can work hard can get more money.

Q: Most of the senior police officers are not satisfied with the present promotional structure and some have sought legal assistance too. What is your comment?

A: Yes. That was the situation we were facing earlier. Before his retirement, the former IGP, Victor Perera had sorted out most of these problems. Even some of the court cases had been settled with the blessings of parties concerned.

We have three organisations of police personnel to tackle the problem of promotions. We have to have a frequent dialogue with these Associations to sort out their problems. I believe that lack of dialogue will lead to various unpleasant situations.

Q: Abductions and disappearances are still happening and people are in fear. What are the steps taken to bring the culprits to book?

A: No one can say that the Police is not conducting investigations into these cases. We have commenced investigations into almost all the complaints and the Police did not delay investigations at any stage. The most important factor is that we have done these investigations in a very transparent manner.

In some cases we have apprehended the culprits who were involved in abductions and killings. One example is Sivaram’s case. There we had conducted investigations and arrested the suspects. They are now in remand.

The major lapse is that the police do not get enough evidence to go ahead with investigations. We need the support of the parties concerned including the victims. When victims refuse to give statements or reluctant to come out with the truth, the Police cannot go beyond the truth. So what we do is we are always requesting all the affected parties to come to the Police and provide whatever information they have got.

People cannot expect the outcome of the investigations overnight. Instead of making baseless allegations, I request the public, to cooperate with the Police.

I can tell with responsibility that no one is pressurising the Police with regard to these cases and we are given a free hand to conduct these investigations. In some instances, two to three parties are involved in a case.

For example, the so-called white van cases. The Media had been attacking me. Why I mentioned about white vans was that the politicians, the public and especially the media are talking about white vans kidnapping people.

But what I have to say is that up to date there is no evidence with regard to any specific vehicle involved in. Making allegations that the police is incompetent, police is partial is baseless.

It is our duty to get the assistance from the media to solve these cases. We have been given lots of assistance by the media to solve crimes. They are our friends. They have been working with us for the last several decades throughout the 141 years of the history of he Police force.

Q: Attacking the media is now a frequent occurrence in the country. As the former media spokesman how do you think you can do justice to your friends in the media?

A: When you talk about attacks, can you cite a single incident where the Police have not commenced investigations? I want media people to say whether the police have acted partially or suppressed the evidence or whether the police have totally rejected conducting investigations. In almost all the instances, I can say with great responsibility the police have commenced investigations but we have not yet produced results in respect of some cases.

I strongly believe that no media personnel can be assaulted by any group or any person. All citizens have equal rights. It is the responsibility of the Police to provide protection to everybody including the media.

But in some instances the media has to cooperate with us. Meantime, the media cannot accuse the Police without a specific issue or evidence. The other fact is that Sri Lanka Police is not 100 percent equipped like the Scotland Yard Police and we lack 100 percent trained officers like them. But I think that with these limited facilities and resources we have done and are doing our duty at a very satisfactory level.

Q: What is the progress in probing into these cases?

A: Investigations are going on and I cannot reveal all the details about these investigations to the media but what I can say is that we have not suppressed any of these investigations. The public can help us by providing more information. We are going ahead with our investigations to mete out justice.

Q: People say that the police force has been politicised. How do you view this allegation and do you think that you can make the police a more independent institution free of political interference?

A: I deny this allegation. Political influence has been totally eradicated from the Police now as we are working under the National Police Commission, which was constituted under the 17th Amendment. So the Police is enjoying total independence and we have freedom to conduct free and fair elections. But people are free to go before the National Police Commission or the Human Rights Commission if they have any allegation to make.

Q: There were occasions where the former IGPs were compelled to listen to ‘politicians’ and to dance to their tune. How do you escape them?

A: You have to ask that question from the former IGPs. I am not in a position to answer it. I am working very closely with the politicians and I have some sort of regard to them because they are the representatives of the public. They come to us on behalf of the people and in those instances we have to listen to them but that does not mean that they can interfere with the Police.

We are government servants and we are answerable to them. The Police have a free hand and no one is allowed to interfere with our work.

Q: The security of the City of Colombo is highly threatened due to the continuous LTTE bomb explosions targeting the innocent civilians. Do you see any lapses on the part of your officers and what are your new strategies to strengthen the security in the city to prevent such bomb explosions?

A: Yes, the security in the Western province will be fully ensured during the SAARC conference. According to the present situation, we have drawn our special attention to prevent any LTTE terrorist activity in the province.

Security personnel from the three forces and the Police will be deployed to ensure the security. We have designed a strong security network, especially during the days of the SARRC conference and we also need the public support.

Q: Do you think that there is a need to deploy Indian security forces for the SARRC? Do you think your officers are well trained to provide security for this international conference with all the security threats?

A: Who said that India is going to provide security for the SARRC? These are misleading statements. I am in charge of the SARRC security arrangements and we are providing security for the heads of States from eight countries and all other delegates. At the moment the police personnel are undergoing special training for this.

Who is Hapuarachchilage Jayantha Shantha Kumara Wickramaratne?

When his colleagues at the Thurstan College were recruited to the Police he too wanted to become a cop. The studious young boy planned his future through higher education and he had set his goals accordingly.

Jayantha travelled all the way from Gampaha to Thurstan College, Colombo and later entered the University of Sri Jayewardenepura in 1968. There were various job opportunities for him but he was determined to become a top police brass from his young days. He obtained a degree in Public Administration and joined the Police as an Assistant Superintendent of Police in 1974.

Having served within the four corners of the country, he later became the DIG, Narcotics and also the Police Media Spokesman.

“I believe in Buddhism and I am a practising Buddhist”, says the new IGP Jayantha Wickramaratne who believes that the teachings of Buddha have helped him to reach the top by becoming the 31st IGP of Sri Lanka.

The most respected two souls in his life are his parents whom guided him properly. Managing their meagre monthly salary his parents, who were public servants gave the two boys every comfort within their reach. “My parents are really great“ he says.

Dreaming to make the police service an honourable one, the IGP is happy that he joined the Police and he has been able to contribute to bring justice to the country.

With no idea of stepping into politics, he dreams a country, free of crimes. “I want to make men more disciplined during my tenure”. That is his wish.

His thrust for updating his knowledge will not end till he dies. After yet another hectic day the IGP Wickramaratne will find peace in mind when he reads a book.

“I read lots of books not only for fun but also to keep in touch with the world”, he says.Being a proud father of a son and a daughter, the IGP, Jayantha Wickramaratne says his whole world is his family”.

* When the police officers are treated well and given their due respect they will not resort to take bribes.

* The President instructed us not to harass University students and clergy who stage demonstrations.

* The salaries of the Policemen are not impressive.

* Department of Police is free of political influences.

* None can attack the media personnel.

* Security of the Western Province will be fully strengthened during the SAARC Conference.

* Torture completely ruled out.

* Police will soon raid all illegal firearms.


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