Danger of devolving police powers to PCs
by Lakshman I. Keerthisinghe
"We, the people of Tamil Eelam, have an inherent right to self-determination. Subject to genocide at the hands of successive Sinhala national governments and as an essential measure of protection we wish to establish our own independent and sovereign State of Tamil Eelam."
-Preamble to the Tamil Eelam Freedom Charter
Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran - Prime Minister TGTE
It was recently reported in the Asian Tribune that M.K. Sivajilingam, the Northern Provincial Councillor and a former Member of Parliament, who represented the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has categorically stated that "the present President was the acting Minister of Defence in the last week of the war in May 2009, against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, as President Mahinda Rajapaksa was away from the country and in his capacity as the Acting Defence Minister, he too had a fair share in the war crimes against the Tamils. Sivajilingam has further stated that three provincial councillors including him, were summoned and questioned by the special CID team that arrived from Colombo, mainly on the allegations they earlier levelled on 8 May, at the media conference held at the Jaffna Press Club, on genocide and on the allegation made on the present President's earlier involvement in war crimes."(Asian Tribune 1 August 2017)
It must be noted that Sri Lanka cannot afford another war and there is no guarantee that a future Northern Provincial Government would not do the same as what the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) did in the past. Sri Lanka cannot risk a provincial government forming its own Army through Police powers devolved to provinces under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The recently reported escalation of attacks on the judiciary as evidenced by the assassination attempt on Justice M. Ilancheliyan and the murder of his Police bodyguard coupled with the recent attacks on Police personnel in Jaffna Peninsula indicate that an armed struggle is now not a thing of the past. It must be recalled that the 13th Amendment to the 1978 Constitution was created by the Indo-Lanka Accord in 1987. It is very clear in the Accord that only one mechanism should be there for law enforcement for the entire country and there cannot be separate mechanisms.
In the above backdrop, we may now examine the contents of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) Charter which states:
1. The creation of an independent and sovereign State of Tamil Eelam remains the only viable option to lead a life with security, dignity and equality, both individually and collectively.
2. For over six decades we have struggled, through both non-violent means and armed resistance, to protect ourselves from State sponsored genocide. We demand the international community to organize a referendum to enable us to exercise our right to self-determination and also take all measures to bring to justice the perpetrators of genocide against the Tamil people.
3. The North-East of Sri Lanka is our traditional homeland and will be the territory of the State of Tamil Eelam. The maritime and aerial limits of Tamil Eelam will be established according to international laws.
It is the view of TGTE that "Presently, the international powers view the Tamil national issue as having three vantage points involving Sino-Indian-Sri Lankan geo-strategic interests.
Tamil Nadu Factor
TGTE had referred to Mark J. Grabrielson and Joan Johnson Freese's article titled the "Tamil Nadu Factor in China's Naval Basing Ambitions in Sri Lanka", and explained "when the Eelam struggle is undertaken by the Tamils across the globe, especially the Tamils in Tamil Nadu in conjunction with Eelam Tamils, the effect of it will multiply," forcing India to review its foreign policy to strengthen its position in the region by placing less reliance on its relationship with Sri Lanka...In the light of China's naval basing ambitions that include access to a new seaport, which it funded and built in Hambantota, Southern Sri Lanka, a development, "...impacting the balance of naval forces in the Indian Ocean," as analyzed by Gabrielson and Johnson Freese, TGTE believed "India has to address the Tamil Nadu factor as an opportunity to actually strengthen its position formidably against China's ambitions by aligning itself with Tamil Nadu towards finding a political solution for Eelam Tamils that's in accordance with Tamil aspirations, thereby protecting her interests in the region. (Source: Internet)
Article 42 of the 1978 Constitution and the 33A of the 19th Amendment state that the President "shall be responsible to Parliament for the due exercise, performance and discharge ... of any written law ...relating to public security". Thus, while the President is responsible for 'public security' as stated in articles cited above, List 1 which itemizes the powers devolved to the Provinces states that the Provincial Police would be responsible for "Public order and the exercise of Police powers". Furthermore, Appendix 1 of List 1, states that upon the declaration of an emergency, the President may "assume powers and responsibilities of the Chief Minister and the Provincial Administration in respect of public order within the Province". Article 4(b) of the Constitution states: "the Executive Powers of the People, including defence of Sri Lanka, shall be exercised by the President...". Article 154 B of the 13th Amendment states that the Governor "...shall hold office in accordance with Article 4 (b)". Furthermore, the Provincial Councils Act No. 42 of 1987 Article 15 (2) states that "...all executive action of the Governor, whether taken on the advice of his ministers or otherwise, shall be expressed to be taken in the name of the President".
The Public Security Ordinance is the law governing public security and its preamble states: "An ordinance to provide for the enactment of emergency regulations or the adoption of other measures in the interests of the public security and the preservation of public order and for the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community." Although the Ordinance governs emergencies it is empowered to "adopt measures in the interests of public security and the preservation of public order". Therefore, since the Ordinance permits intervention to 'preserve public order', there is a clear necessity to establish guidelines as to when public order deteriorates to the point of reaching the level of public security.
Thus it is seen that the contention that devolving Police powers to these Provincial Councils could pave the way for the re-establishment of an Army in the North is indeed a reality and the risking of such an action may result in another failed attempt at the formation of a separate State in the North and East through the resurgence of an armed struggle as in the past resulting in misery to our Nation. This fact necessitates a strong military presence in the North and the East and continued vigilance as even our brethren living in the North and East do not desire such an eventuality, which will bring misery to their people as evidenced in the past.
As far as devolution of land powers is concerned the Supreme Court has held that "State Land shall continue to vest in the Republic" Thus it is the central government which holds such power which is advisable in the present context.
It is the diaspora led by the TGTE thriving comfortably in foreign lands on the millions of dollars flowing into their coffers in the guise of protecting an Eelam cause that are hell-bent to destablize Sri Lanka in the eyes of the international community. The government has already commenced a dialogue with all stakeholders to achieve a consensus through consultation and compromise.
In conclusion, it is advisable that all Sri Lankans should resort to the ballot and not to the bullet to resolve any conflicts among the ethnic groups. It is now seen that abolishing the executive presidency, as well as devolving Police and land powers to the provinces is not advisable in the present situation. As the prelates have observed it is advisable to halt the Constitution making process as the present time is not opportune as evidenced by the recent escalation of unrest in the North.
The writer is an Attorney-at-Law with LLB, LLM, MPhil (Colombo)
Solution must be acceptable to Tamils Separate State is not a reasonable request - Former Army Commander, General Gerry De Silva RWP, VSV, USP
- UN damns Lanka 14,000 minors in childcare centres Calls for urgent reforms
- Russia restricts Lanka tea over beetle scare Top-level delegation off to Moscow
- Call to criminalize marital rape Justice Ministry seeks Cabinet approval
- Jumbo killings Armed protection unit to be set up Fines, jail terms to be increased
- Crossovers loom prior to polls
- SC issues notice on Elections Chief
- Jilted SLFP shuns JO forever
- CEB TU threatens strike Gives 18th as ultimatum
- Gnanasara Thera’s request for foreign travel denied
- Chinese envoy says OBOR will take Sino-Lanka ties to new level
- Police Chief in pre-poll warning Errant officers will be dealt with strictly
- Court extends Stay Order on Gota case
- Sriyani as State Minister of PCs and LG JO crossover pledged support for MS
- Rains to prevail Landslide warning to Galle, Kalutara to be reviewed
- BJP lauds ‘Ram Setu’ findings Hits out at critics
- Two held for impersonation at exam centre
- Female Genital Mutilation Advice sought from medical experts
- Hambantota Port to China India raises security concerns
- Indian Air Force Chief at passing out parade
- Statement from the Embassy of the State of Palestine
- LG Governance first to collapse in N&E
- Asgiriya Secy criticizes Govt
- Namal’s Hello Corp case on 13 December
- Attanayake’s foreign travel request Court to consider on 4 Dec
- Drugs & alcohol abuse in NE Religious reps to address issue
- Interesting battle at Havelock Park
- Thurstan win inaugural golf tourney
- History making Pulisic US men’s footballer of the year
- Knicks down Nets despite early exit for Porzingis
- 34th Mercantile Individual Tournament 2017 McLarens shuttlers Overall Champions
- Retired Hewitt takes tilt at Aussie Open doubles
- Lamborghini World Final 2017 Malagamuwa finishes third
- Committee clears Thilaka as SL coach
- Basnayake uncontested president at SLCF
- Premier League Club Cricket Primosh scores second ton
- Vinod and Taniya win Junior golf titles
- Taveesh wins two Gold medals
- Austin Waugh, in Australia's U-19
- CH come back to win
- Smith foils England again
- Emphatic win for CR
- No Malinga in T20 squad
- ‘Singer Trophy’ Under-19 Cricket Paceman Bandara steers Kingwood
- Federer voted BBC overseas sports personality of the year
- SLC looking to re-launch showpiece T20 league
- Astron wins again at SLIM NASCO 2017
- NDB brings Santa to the doorstep
- Com Bank opens branch No. 259 in Yatiyantota
- Amãna Takaful relocates Matale Branch
- Lotus Tyres rewards sales agents
- DFCC Bank sponsors 2017 Inter-School Golf Tournament
- Huawei announces Christmas promotion
- Elephant House recognized by Interbrand
- Singer (Sri Lanka) partners with Pan Asia Bank
- Disney deal suggests the Tax bill may mean little for the economy
- Commonwealth Bank admits failures in money laundering case
- Japanese business confidence hits 11-year high
- Eurozone economy to grow at faster rate, says Central Bank
- SEC to mandate dual roles for CEOs & Chairmen
- Alumex to commence EU & Aus exports
- Fiscal Policy Act remains toothless: Governor
- Samantha Rajapaksa gives up all AMW posts
- 'Publish excuses for corporate governance non-compliance'
- Jetwing Symphony IPO oversubscribed
- Shares recover from an 8-month low
- Christmas cheer is in the air!
- So, this is Christmas!
- A Time of Gifts Winding up
- Landmine deaths soar in 2016 With record number of child victims monitors
- Unravelling Nietzsche’s ‘death of God’ mystery
- Canada’s pivot to China hits a snag
- Brexit: The UK’s four options
- When the heart calls out, on a starry night
- On eve of climate summit Macron reminds Trump of ‘responsibility to history’
- FGM/FGC Victims speak out
- Wigneswaran sowing seeds of communalism
- SLFP supports devolution of power – Lasantha Alagiyawanna
- If Bond scammers are not prosecuted…President will lose his credibility –Bandula Gunawardena
- All information security issues are not cyber crimes
- We want a change in Muslim representation– Hasen Ali
- Blessed are the peacemakers
- Disinformation campaigns and public mistrust
- Alleged human rights violations Lord Naseby defends Sri Lanka
- Neecha Dosha of planets and how it is cancelled Neechabhanga Rajayoga
- Vastu defects and bathrooms
- Are you endowed with Pancha Maha PurushaYoga?
- God Aiyanayake: Guardian Deity of Jungle and Village
- Good thoughts eliminate bad planetary influence
- The Disaster Artist: The (un)making of a movie
- Our children and our cinema
- INTERPRETING ASIAN CINEMA: CHALLENGES AHEAD
- How Sanskrit journalism is slowly hogging headlines
- ice manufacturing in South Asia
- CMSC’s season finale concert
- Two documentaries on Sri Lanka in Film South Asia 2017
- Politics of nostalgia
- Kite Surfing Lanka Kalpitiya An experience of a lifetime
- Ella and mini Adam’s Peak
- A cave of history -Ravana Cave
- Silvia Senanayake Dazzles at Mrs. Asia International
- Let’s Taco Colombo
- THE WRITER’S KITCHENNETTE MULLED WINE
- Hunger gnaws at Rohingya Children in camps
- Defeating IS Russia has ‘accomplished’ task
- Saudi Princess Ameera Aidan fights sex exploitation
- Hacking into the gate
- Review: A Bad Moms Christmas Relatable holiday humour
- A must watch superhero film!