CMEV Letter to National Police Commission on Police Transfers During Election Period

March 06, 2020

Mr. Nishantha A. Weerasinghe,
Secretary,
National Police Commission,
Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall Premises,
Block 9,
Colombo 07

Dear Secretary,

Transfers of commissioned and other Police officers during the election period

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) would like to express its appreciation of Sri Lanka Police as one of the key stakeholders of the election process in this country during the previous Presidential Election in 2019. We strongly believe that in the context of the upcoming General Election, Sri Lanka Police will perform its duties in a similarly commendable manner to ensure a free and fair election.

To this end, one of the most decisive factors is creating a conducive background for all police officers working in various locations across the country to be able to perform their duties and responsibilities in an independent manner without any undue influence.

Several reports we have received so far indicate that this policy is not being completely followed. This includes the apparent plans to transfer Mr. Uchith Liyanage, Senior Superintendent of Police of Seethawaka area and place as the Deputy Director of the Women and Child Bureau. Our reports indicate that he is to be replaced by Mr. Sudath Wedamulla, Senior Superintendent of Police who was recently appointed as a Personal Assistant of a Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police after being transferred from Anuradhapura.

In the face of a national level election, CMEV emphasises that any alleged attempts of transferring will be a direct violation of the explicit guidelines provided by the Election Commission. As per usual electoral processes in Sri Lanka, the Police must also consult the Election Commission before any such transfer. In the past when neither the National Police Commission nor the Election Commission had been established, the Department of Elections and the Department of Police jointly managed these kinds of situations in a very coordinated and supportive manner. The work accomplished through such coordination had generated better results too. We also trust that the Inspector General of Police (Acting) has enormous experience of similar essential transfers done in a well-coordinated manner.

Thus, we strongly expect the National Police Commission to pay your kind attention to rectify any such transfers that have either already taken place or will take place. It is the absolute responsibility of the National Police Commission to ensure the independent functioning of the Police service during elections. CMEV also notes that numerous baseless and unanticipated allegations against independent Commissions are being made in the current climate. It is the sole responsibility of the Commissions to build and strengthen their reputations. The National Police Commission can do that here by taking strong, principled decisions and promoting independent practices within Sri Lanka Police in a careful, professional and just manner.

Finally, CMEV will extend our fullest support for any decisions your Commission will take in order to protect and enhance the integrity of electoral processes of this country.

Your attention for above mentioned matters will be highly appreciated.

Manjula Gajanayake,
National Coordinator,
CMEV

Copied to:

  • Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya, Chairman, Election Commission, Election Secretariat, Sarana Road, Rajagiriya.
  • Mr. H.M.T.D. Herath, Secretary, Election Commission, Election Secretariat, Sarana Road, Rajagiriya.
  • Mr. C.D. Wickramarathne, Inspector General of Police (Acting) Sri Lanka Police, Police Headquarters, Colombo 01.
  • Mr. Saman Sri Rathnayake, Commissioner General, Election Commission, Election Secretariat, Sarana Road, Rajagiriya.
  • Mr. Priyantha Weerasooriya, Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police (Elections), Sri Lanka Police, Police Headquarters, Colombo 01.
  • Mr. Suranga Ranashinghe, Assistant Election Commissioner, Election Commission, Election Secretariat, Sarana Road, Rajagiriya.
  • Mr. Ashoka Dharmasena, Senior Superintendent of Police (Director-Elections), Sri Lanka Police, Police Headquarters, Colombo 01.