Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) said today it is concerned that the lack of urgency in addressing allegations against police officers investigating major corruption cases, could have a detrimental impact on public trust in the justice system.
"Past incidents, including unwarranted contact between politicians and investigators, illustrate that interference by political authorities undermines the impartiality and credibility of investigations," TISL said in a statement.
TISL’s Executive Director, Asoka Obeyesekere said, “We have witnessed serious allegations being leveled at investigative officers in the recent past, based on altered testimony provided by witnesses. These allegations must be taken seriously, and it is important that the authorities act swiftly to ascertain their accuracy”.
The Handbook on Police Accountability, Oversight and Integrity published by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) notes that, “A culture, valuing loyalty over integrity, facilitates misconduct by keeping it concealed. Any attempt to enhance police integrity needs to be accompanied by measures to enhance transparency and stimulate a culture of openness”.
TISL’s Global Corruption Barometer: Sri Lanka 2019 report revealed that 73% of the public had either a fair amount or a great deal of trust in the judiciary, whereas in the case of the police, the figure was 57%.
Obeyesekere added, “Ensuring the accountability of police under the law is crucial to building public trust in police investigations and prosecutions. It is essential that this takes place in the absence of political interference, which otherwise serves to undermine the credibility of the very same accountability process”.
He concluded, “It is important that actions against police personnel are not seen as politically motivated, as this can send an alarming message to investigative officers, discouraging them from investigating those in positions of power due to potential repercussions”.