Bar Association of Sri Lanka Condemns Minister’s Statement on Justice and Public Security

At their council session on April 27th, 2024, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka strongly condemned a recent statement made at the Katukurunda STF training camp’s passing out parade, which has garnered significant attention across various media platforms.

According to reports, the Minister asserted, ‘Eliminating criminals from the country is not a sin. Don’t be afraid to use the weapon in your hand for the right thing, and we stand by you.‘

Expressing deep concern, the BASL found this statement to be in direct contradiction to the fundamental principles outlined in the nation’s Constitution and the established procedures governing the criminal justice system. The association emphasized that the dispensation of justice, including the imposition of penalties upon wrongdoers, is exclusively within the jurisdiction of the courts as mandated by the Constitution. It stressed that such actions must adhere strictly to due process, including thorough investigations and fair trials conducted in accordance with the law.

In light of the concerning rise in extrajudicial killings, custodial deaths, and instances of torture perpetrated by law enforcement in recent times, the Minister’s statement was seen as perpetuating a dangerous misconception that justice, sentencing, and punishment lie beyond the purview of the judiciary and can be administered arbitrarily, without adherence to due process.

The recurrent pattern of irresponsible, arbitrary, and misleading remarks by the Minister underscores the urgent need for corrective action. As a custodian of public security, the Minister is duty-bound to serve the interests of the populace. However, the repeated dissemination of such misguided messages not only undermines public trust but also misguides law enforcement personnel.

Therefore, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka emphatically calls for the immediate retraction of the Minister’s statement. It further urges His Excellency the President to promptly remove Minister Tiran Alles from the portfolio of Public Security, as his repeated statements encouraging impunity and disregard for the rule of law demonstrate that he is no longer suitable to hold that office. Additionally, the BASL reaffirms the sacrosanct principle that the authority to mete out punishment must remain vested solely in the courts, operating within the bounds of established legal procedures.

Lastly, the BASL emphasizes the fundamental right of every individual accused of an offense to undergo a fair and diligent investigation and to receive a fair trial, as guaranteed by the law and international conventions adhered to by civilized legal systems.

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