Sri Lanka’s president has bowed to international pressure and relinquished the defence ministry’s authority over the police department, an official said Friday.
President Mahinda Rajapakse has created a new ministry for law and order, and placed it in charge of the 80,000-strong police which had been overseen by the defence ministry for the past nine years.
“The president has issued a gazette notification creating the ministry of Law and Order which will be responsible for the police department,” the President’s spokesman Mohan Samaranayake said.
There was no government explanation for setting up the new ministry, but an official source who declined to be named said the move was in line with the recommendation of a panel to improve the island’s rights record.
The panel, which probed the final stages of the island’s decades-long Tamil separatist war, recommended in November 2011 that the police department be de-linked from the defence ministry. This was strongly backed by rights groups and the international community.
The latest government move comes ahead of a visit to the island by the United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay following two Human Rights Council resolutions censuring the island over its rights record…
“Daily Mirror,” Colombo, August 23, 2013
New Ministry set up under MR
“The Island,” Colombo, August 23, 2013
by Shamindra Ferdinando
Police, STF placed under new ministry in line with LLRC recommendations – GR
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has created an Internal Law and Order ministry to take charge of police operations with immediate effect.
During the conflict the police were under the direct supervision of the Defence Ministry, though the UNP had brought law enforcement operations under a newly created Interior Ministry following the Dec. 2001 general elections. The police were brought back under the Defence ministry by the then President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga in early 2004.
The Internal Law and Order Ministry was meant to streamline police operations, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa told The Island yesterday.
Asked whether the ongoing controversy over the military crackdown on the August 1 Weliweriya protest had prompted the sudden decision, the Defence Secretary said that the new ministry had been created in keeping with the recommendations made by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
The government was in the process of implementing LLRC recommendations, the Defence Secretary said, adding that eradication of terrorism had paved the way for far reaching changes in the security apparatus.
The official pointed out that the new ministry had been created in an environment free of emergency regulations and Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) which gave security forces wide powers to deal with threats posed to the government.
President Rajapaksa would remain in charge of the newly created ministry, the Defence Secretary said. Sri Lanka’s former ambassador to Indonesia, Major General Nanda Mallawaarachchi would function as the Secretary to the ministry. At the commencement of eelam war II, Mallawaarachchi held the post of Army Chief of Staff during the tenure of Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka as commander of the army. Responding to a query, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that the elite Special Task Force (STF), too, would be
He said that successive governments had been compelled to keep the police under direct supervision of the Defence Ministry during the conflict.