The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), while expressing serious concern about the rise in custodial deaths and criminal activity in many parts of the country in recent times, said today that the government should draught enforceable guidelines to prevent the reoccurrence of custodial deaths.

“We are of the view that the government, together with other stakeholders, should impose stricter laws and punishments on errant police officers for misuse of their power and not fulfilling their duties”, a release issued under the hands of BASL President Kaushalya Nawaratne and Secretary Isuru Balapatabendi said.

The association said that one of the worst crimes in a civilised society under the rule of law is custodial death. “Our legal system provides for investigation, inquiry, trial, and punishment by proper authorities, which is the base of democracy and the rule of law, and the credibility and transparency of such processes must be diligently and fiercely preserved”, the statement said.

“In view of repeated violations of fundamental rights of persons in custody causing death, the Supreme Court on February 3, 2023, directed the Inspector General of Police to formulate, issue, and implement guidelines to the police, elaborating the steps that should be taken by each officer to avoid ‘encounter deaths’ in the future.

“In spite of such directions given by the Supreme Court, the BASL observes that custodial deaths and torture continue at an alarming rate. The BASL insists that the duty of the state is not only to safeguard the rights of citizens but also to compensate the victims and punish the violators of the law.”