By: Chandrashekar Bhat
POLICE Scotland has paused its training programme in Sri Lanka “for the time being” as the force’s activity in the south Asian country is being reviewed.
Its engagement with Sri Lanka where it worked to develop community policing has been halted since May, months after reports that it renewed its contract with Colombo for two years.
While the activity of Police Scotland is being assessed, the force said its officers could not travel to Sri Lanka because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The development comes amid international rights groups’ criticism of Sri Lankan law enforcement agencies for their “abuses”, The Times said.
In its latest report, Human Rights Watch stated that police excesses including extrajudicial killing and torture escalated during the pandemic.
The engagement of the UK and the UN with Sri Lanka without any concrete reforms in safeguarding human rights could appear to endorse the “abusive agencies” of the Indian Ocean nation, the New York-based group’s south Asian director, Meenakshi Ganguly said.
However, Police Scotland’s assistant chief constable Gary Ritchie said human rights have always been at the core of its every action.
“Police Scotland’s values of integrity, fairness, respect and a commitment to upholding human rights are at the heart of everything we do. This includes our work in Sri Lanka, which supports the realisation of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, particularly gender equality, reduced inequality, peace and justice, strong institutions and partnerships to achieve the goals”, Ritchie told The Times.
“All UK assistance is subject to robust overseas security and justice assistance [OSJA] assessments to ensure that it supports our values and is consistent with our domestic and international human rights obligations. The OSJA relating to Police Scotland’s current activity in Sri Lanka is currently under review and all our activity is paused for the time being. Officers have not travelled to Sri Lanka since the start of the coronavirus pandemic for public health reasons”.