To the surprise of the audience Director public Complaints Investigation Department of the National Police Commission Prabath Lakshman Wijethunga, said that it was the invitation from ‘Right to Life’ to attend the commemoration that presented an opportunity to inform the NPC of the National Action Plan. According to him some Government institutions were still not aware of the NHRAP.
Meanwhile the NHRAP states that special unit will be established within the NPC to record, investigate, take disciplinary action and refer for prosecution complaints on torture. Wijethunga said that work on this has already commenced.
Under Article 155, as amended by the 19th Amendment, the NPC can establish procedures to entertain and investigate public complaints made against a police officer or the police service and provide redress as provided by law. “If we find a police officer guilty we take disciplinary action against that individual,” he said.
Since the establishment of the NPC on 14th October, 2015 it has received 467 complaints in 2015, 1879 in 2016 and around 1400 so far in 2017. “We have taken disciplinary action against 76 police officers. Preliminary investigations have been initiated against 25 police officers,” said Wijethunga.
He assured that as soon as they received a complaint on torture they had acted promptly. “We go to the police station where it is alleged that the torture took place and inspect the place. We inquire into how the person was arrested,” he said.
Under the Torture Act, torture can be either physical or physiological, he said. “A person who has been subjected to torture will be removed immediately and hospitalized. We have the power to extract statements and investigate into such allegations.
“When investigating into complaints on torture we have found that most victims had been involved in the illegal drug trade. Sometimes the complaint does not cooperate.
This is because they want to continue with the trade and they believe that an investigation would impede their opportunity of reassuming the trade. Then we are helpless because we can’t proceed with investigations,” he said.
Anthony Vinoth (R2L)