A 2 Z: Appointment of Torturer as IGP in Sri Lanka.!

-By Sunanda Deshapriya

(Lanka-e-News -02.March.2024, 9.45 PM)

1.    Incorrect announcement of the appointment of Deshabandu:

On 26 February 2024 Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police (SDIG) and Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), Deshbandu Tennakoon was appointed the new Inspector General of Police. The PMD said that the appointment complied with the stipulations outlined in Article 41C. (1) and 61E.(b) of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The appointment has been made under the authority vested in President Ranil Wickremesinghe. This statement has been proved utterly wrong.

2.    Reasons behind the appointment before the due date:

He was appointed ahead of his term as Deputy Inspector General of Police came to an end to circumvent seven Fundamental Rights petitions filed against his appointment at the Supreme Court (SC) of Sri Lanka. Conforming Govt. scheme Additional Solicitor General Nerin Pulle, who appeared for the Attorney General, stated before the court that since the appointment of the Inspector General of Police has been completed now, it is not possible to maintain the petitions against Acting IGP Deshabandu.

3.    Early appointment is a challenge to the Rule of Law:

President's Counsel Saliya Pieris who appeared for lawyer Manoj Nanayakkara stated before the court that “Deshabandu Tennakoon's tenure as Acting Inspector General of Police was scheduled to end on the 29th of this month. That is why the court fixed the date for considering the petitions today (27th Feb). Despite this, the respondent was appointed Inspector General of Police yesterday (26 Feb). This is a challenge to the rule of law.” The case was fixed for April 2 by the Supreme Court.

4.    Unconstitutional appointment by the CC:

Leader of the opposition & member of the parliament Sajith Premadasa who is a member of the Constitutional Council (CC) stated that the appointment of Deshabandu Thennakoon as IGP is unconstitutional as he did not receive the required number of votes at the Constitutional Council Meeting.  The Secretary of the Constitutional Council made a false statement by falsely claiming it had approved the appointment of Deshabandu Tennekoon as IGP. Just as the Speaker (the chair of the CC) intentionally violated the Constitution, the Secretary of the Council should also be held responsible for this violation, according to the opposition.  

5.    The SC had named Deshabandu as a torturer:

By the time this illegal appointment was made On just two weeks after he was appointed as Acting IGP, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka decided on 14th December 2023, that in 2010 Deshabandu Thennakoon, then an Assistant Superintend of Police had tortured 3 undressed suspects and forced them to apply a kind of menthol balm ( Sidalapa) on their genitals.

6.    The Speaker lying to protect Deshabandu:

When a media outlet questioned the Speaker whether the Constitutional Council did not consider the SC judgment which convicted Deshabandu Thennakoon as a human rights violator, he replied negatively and said "According to what we have investigated, it is said that there are no charges against him. It has asked to pay a compensation of 50,000 rupees from the police department. According to the information we have received, that is the case."

7.    The SC decision re Deshabandu in verbatim:

The statement of the Speaker was a complete lie. The SC decision and order clearly stated that Dehsabandu Thennakoon as an HR violator and ordered him to pay LKR 500,000 to the victim. “As such, it appears that the Petitioner was kept detained without producing before a Magistrate within the legally stipulated time frame with full knowledge of the 5th Respondent (i.e. Deshabandu Thennakoon). Therefore, I hold the 5th Respondent, too, to have violated the fundamental rights of the Petitioner enshrined under Articles 13(1) and 13(2) of the Constitution”  said the SC judgment. “The 5th Respondent is ordered to pay as compensation a sum of Rs. 500,000/- (Rupees Five-Hundred Thousand).”

8.    Deshabandu, a violator of Fundamental Rights:

The SC further decided that “From the circumstances established in the instant case, it is clear that the 5th Respondent (i.e. Dashabandu Thennakoon) has enabled, through his actions as well as inaction, the conduct of the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Respondents, making him directly liable for the fundamental rights violations hereinbefore established.”

9.    The HRCSL urged the AG to prosecute Deshabandu:

On 22 December 20203 in a letter to the Attorney General (AG), after citing the SC judgment of Deshabandu,  the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka called on the AG to consider the prosecution of police officers, found by the Supreme Court to be responsible for acts of torture, under the provisions of the Torture Act. The HRCSL reiterated that such prosecution is crucial to combatting a culture of impunity and preventing the recurrence of torture in the future.

10.    40 odd legal cases against Deshabandu:

In an open letter to the CC regarding the appointment of Deshabandu as the IGP Journalists Tharindu Jayawardena noted that before appointing Deshabandu Tennakoon as IGP, if a report was called from Acting DIG Ruwan Gunasekera regarding the cases against him, it would have been possible to obtain information on nearly 40 cases against him.

11.    Torture suspects police officers should be interdicted – HRCSL:

Further, it emphasized that where investigations under the Torture Act are deemed appropriate, it is crucial that suspects who are serving police officers are interdicted to ensure that they are prevented from interfering with witnesses or otherwise thwarting the gathering of evidence.

12.    Disqualify any FR violator for the IGP position -BASL:

On 22 December 2023 President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), Kaushalya Nawaratne told the media “Hopefully, BASL will make some recommendations on what should be done and present our position on this matter. This is nothing but torture that the apex Court of the country has found him (Tennakoon) guilty of. Therefore, whether he is entitled to hold public office is a question. “Earlier on 20th December BASL issued a strongly worded statement categorically urging the authorities to disqualify any candidate for the IGP position who has a history of violating fundamental rights or is facing criminal charges or allegations of unlawful activity.

13.    The Police Commission has the power to act against Deshabandu -The AG:

Media reported that “the AG has replied that the National Police Commission’s authority to initiate disciplinary action against the Acting IGP (i.e. Deshabadu) is provided for in terms of the provisions and procedures contemplated by Article 41C(3) of the Constitution read with the provisions of the Removal of Officers (Procedure) Act No. 5 of 2002. The report said that “the NPC, in taking steps to comply with the directions of the Supreme Court, should take cognizance of its Constitutional mandate set out in Chapter XVIII A of the Constitution and the relevant provisions set out in the Removal of Officers (Procedure) Act, the AG has noted.”

14.    The Commission of Inquiry on the Easter Attacks recommended disciplinary action:

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the Easter Attacks blamed DIG Tennekoon for not being able to prevent the attacks. The Commission recommended disciplinary action against him. It is a crime to appoint such a person as the acting IGP, Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said in a statement on 30 November 2023. No disciplinary action was taken against SDIG Deshabandu Thennakoon.  

15.    Instead of facing the courts Deshabandu played a religious card:

Instead of going to courts to obtain justice, Deshabandu pleaded justice from Buddhist prelates and played religious card. On 20 August 2021 SDIG Deshabandu Tennakoon in the company of some other high-ranking police officers together with several Police officers handed over a letter to the Asgiriya Chapter Mahanayake Most Venerable Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Thera. Tennakoon said that “a large group of people who committed themselves to ending the 30-year war is facing injustice because of this [Easter Sunday] Commission.

16.    Deshabandu blamed 2015-2019 govt of religious bias regarding the Easter attacks:

Group including SDIG Deshabadu blamed the previous government for having a close relationship with the Muslim community and for not carrying out an in-depth investigation into organizations such as ISIS” The group including SDIG Thennakoon said that “today it is the Sinhala Buddhist Police Officers who are facing punishment. It is not justified. We do not want disciplinary inquiries held against us. Do not file legal action in court against us.”

17.    Deshabandu accused of making death threats:

SDIG  Deshabandu has been accused of making death threats on two occasions. 1. He threatened journalist Tharindu Jayawardena in a Facebook post that he would be punished by natural justice like what happened to the leader of the Tamil militant group V. Prabakaran. Prabakaran was killed by the Sri Lankan military in the last phase of the war.

18.    “I will take care of you in the future” – Deshabandu threatened SSP of SIU:

On January 13, 2023 the Director of the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Wickramasinghe, informed the Fort Magistrate that he was threatened by Deshabandu Tennakoon saying “I will take care of you in the future” for reporting facts to the court regarding the investigations into Rs. 17,850,000 recovered from the presidential residence on July 9, 2022.

19.    Leave to proceed granted in FR case against Deshabandu:

On 22 June 2023 the Supreme Court granted leave to proceed against Western Province Senior DIG Deshabandu Tennakoon and other police officers over the arrest made in respect of protesters at Lipton Circus and Colpetty in 2020, while they were staging a protest over the US police murder of George Floyd. The SC granted leave to proceed in respect of two Fundamental Rights petitions under Articles 11, 12(1), 12(2), 13(1), 13(2), 14(1) (a) and 14 (1) (b) of the constitution.

20.    The Attorney General filed an appeal against Deshabandu:

On 06 September 2023 The Attorney General filed an appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the legality of the Court of Appeal judgment which quashed the operation of the Attorney General’s communication to name Western Province Senior DIG Deshabandu Tennakoon as a suspect in connection with the Galle Face Attacks case at Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court.  The Court of Appeal had issued a writ order quashing the communication issued by the Attorney General to the Inspector General of Police to name Deshabandu Tennakoon as a suspect for abetting in the commission of offences punishable under sections 314, 316, 343, and 300 of the Penal Code in connection with his alleged failure to prevent attacks on protesters at Galle Face on May 9, 2022.  

21.    Failure to act on the SC judgment will legitimize a worst-case scenario - Lawyers’ Collective:

As President of our country, who has taken an oath of office to uphold the Constitution, and as a member of the legal profession, lawyers’ collective called upon him  to recognize the gravity of these violations of constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights, and international law, [by Deshabnadu Thennakoon] and take immediate action following the judgment of the Supreme Court. Failure to do so will legitimize the idea that a person can hold high public office even though he/ she has been found responsible for one of the most heinous crimes and abuses of power under Sri Lanka’s laws and violation of fundamental rights guaranteed as a core aspect of the People’s Sovereignty in a democracy, said the statement.

22.    Remove Deshabandu -Civil society and leading citizens:

On 29 January issuing a statement Civil Society Organisations, including women’s groups expressed their outrage at the appointment and continued tenure of Deshabandu Tennakoon as Acting IGP.  They called on the President We and the National Police Commission to immediately remove Deshabandu Tennakoon from the office of Acting IGP, suspend him from all responsibilities as Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police and take appropriate disciplinary action respectively.

23.    Two largest political coalitions oppose Deshabandu’s appointment.

National Peoples’ Power (NPP) and Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), the largest political coalitions in the country have made their stand on the appointment of Dehabandu Thennakoon as the IGP.

24.    NPP will go to the courts against the appointment:

The Speaker's conduct in the case of appointing Deshabandu Tennakoon as the IGP is in violation of the Constitution. NPP will go to the courts and hope the Supreme Court will rectify it, its general secretary Tilvin Silva told the media on 29 Feb 2024.  

25.    For the first time in the history of Sri Lanka accused officer has become the IGP – SJB:

A person who is facing a number of court cases has been appointed as the IGP for the first time in Sri Lankan history. Court cases that are pending should have been considered when making the appointment," SJB General Secretary R. Madduma Bandara said in a statement on 29 Feb 2024.

26.    Ranil Rajapaksa welcomes torturer IGP with a smile;

On 29 February Sri Lanka President Media Division issued a photo of so-called liberal Ranil Rajapaksa welcoming torturer IGP with a broad smile.  When questioned about his conviction, Deshabandu told media that his power comes from the President and his endorsement is more than enough for him.

27.    Torturer IGP makes first move giving indirect green light to abuse power

As his first circular torturer, IGP approved providing financial aid from the Police Legal Assistance Fund to police personnel facing legal issues on actions taken when performing their duties. This means telling police personnel to take the law into their own hands and torturer IGP will protect and take care of them. This will encourage police personnel to abuse power at their will.

By Sunanda Deshapriya

by     (2024-03-02 16:24:33)

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