25th February 2001
By Victor Ivan
Ridiculing political personalities in various ways is not something confined to Sri Lanka but a practice common to all countries. Ridicule might contain a certain amount of insult, and there can be leaders who consider even the most innocent ridicule as an insult. Surprisingly, when a woman who took part in a UNP demonstration posed as the President, it became the talk of the town as if nothing of the kind had ever happened before, and that talk culminated in a massive attack on that woman's home.
Such things have happened many times in political demonstrations before. They have been common in May Day demonstrations. When the UNP was ruling, there were instances where opposition May Day rallies demonstrated characters posing not only as President Jayewardene and President Premadasa but also as Mrs Premadasa or there were puppets made to resemble them. However, the incident about Kamalawathie became a subject of wide discussion because, although there had been many such happenings earlier, this was the first time when such a thing was given so much prominence and was given TV coverage and was deliberately made a subject of discussion. What had given an emotional content to the lady's posing was her use of the eye patch as part of the mimicry.
The President is not in the habit of covering her injured eye with a piece of lint. However, Moshe Dayan the famous Israeli General covered his injured eye. At the time Ms. Kumaratunga was taking oaths as President after the bomb attack she participated in the ceremony with an eye patch because her eye had been subjected to surgery. However, it was something temporary which was confined to that occasion only.
When considering how appropriate it was to use that eye patch in a mimicry, another fact that has to be taken into account is that, not only the UNP, but also the PA government itself had used the photograph with the covered eye on many occasions. The posters issued by the government in connection with the Independence Day celebrations and the "Dharmayarthra programme" carries the same picture.
It must also be remembered that such attributions which do not appear to be very appropriate had been an inherent feature not only of UNP politics but also of PA politics. In a poster issued by the PA during both previous elections, Ranil Wickremesinghe had been depicted with two blood stained protruding teeth reminiscent of Dracula.
When cartoonists depict political characters they emphasize some physical features of those characters. Many cartoonists, when depicting Rohana Wijesena or Rohana Wijeweera, emphasised their somewhat protruding teeth. When depicting Mr. Jayewardene, a nose resembling the beak of a parrot was given to him, and when Mr. Premadasa was depicted his face was given a box like shape. The slight stoop of Prof. G.L. Pieris and Gen. Anuruddha Ratwatte's walking stick and his limp are important features to a cartoonist.
All popular leaders had nicknames given to them by the people or by the opposition parties. Thus S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike was 'Sevela Bande' (Slimy Banda). Dudley Senanayake was 'Pacha Bahu' (Bahu that lies) Sir John Kotelawala was 'Val John' (wild John), W. Dahanayake was 'Vavula' (the bat) and Mr. Jayewardene was 'Yankee Dicky'. The nickname given to Chandrika by the UNP is 'Pacha Malla' (the bag of lies). The latest nickname given to the UNP leader by the PA is 'Mister Bean'.
The President expressed her views about the Kamalawathie affair in a recent TV interview. The President was questioned by a listener as to what she thought about Kamalawathie's conduct. Putting a counter question whether that lady resembled her, she said, if that was so, she would commit suicide. That reply contained the feeling that she, a person of aristocratic decent was defamed when her character was played by a poor and uneducated woman like Kamalaw-athie who represented a social group quite different from aristocracy.
Although there was a large group of critics who condemned Kamalawathie's action, there was none to condemn the terrible act that she had to face. Manusha Nanayakkara in the T V programme "Live at Eight" described the attack on her home as a retribution she faced in this life itself for the offence she had committed. What an atrocious society we are compelled to live in today!
The attack on Kamala-wathie's home at Raddolug-ama cannot be considered a result of the peoples' anger or as an act of God. The attackers had come in 'defender' type vehicles with search lights fixed on the roof. The shape of the attack was similar to that levelled against well known vocalist Rukantha Gunatilaka.
The incident relating to Kamalawathie cannot be considered the first of its kind. Several years ago, at a fancy dress competition of little children held at a school in the constituency of Deputy Minister Pavitra Wanniarachchi a little girl depicted the Deputy Minister's character. It pleased everybody who had participated, but its finale was a massive attack that night on the principal's home. The incident about Kamalawathie too may be conferred to represent a further stage of the same process. What it means is that the space for different opinions is narrowing sharply and fast.
The writer is the Editor of Ravaya
By a Special Correspondent
Initially, an admonition. When contemplating "Police Reforms" or agitating for them, one has to be mindful of the condition prevailing in the country which have a bearing on safety and security both in respect of the State and the Peoples of the Island.
One has to ascertain what the prevalent political philosophy is, what the values and culture of the political system are, what societal values are, and whether society is threatened by collective violence. In other words, one has to be conscious of what is happening, not mistake the symptoms for the malady and bring about changes in a manner which "let hidden forces and emotions emerge naturally so that they resolve themselves naturally and do not emerge as unspecific and chaotic energies which strike and hit any available target".
Amongst the current concerns being voiced by sections of the public, are the abuse of political authority and power on the one hand, and corruption on the other, and that they are vitiating the services rendered by the Police to the State, the Government, the Opposition, the Public and the Individual. The current interest as professed by concerned Sri Lankans is to remedy the above and bring in fairness, moral scrupulousness and professionalism into policing.
Assuming that the above mentioned concerns are valid, an that the interests of the concerned Sri Lankans need to be satisfied, the solution would not be to swing the pendulum from the perceived total political control of the police to no political control, (as the "maintenance of order is a quintessential function of Government" and as "social control is fundamentally a political question") but to bring balance and integrity into police governance and professionalism into policing, with policy being left with the politician, execution left to the professional and "independent" authorities brought into monitor performance. With this prospect in view, some of the more important measures needed are outlined below in two parts. Part One below has the contents of one scale pan of the balance so to speak.
(a) that policy making and policy directives be with the Cabinet and the Minister in charge of the Police, i.e. its political head. That Minister should be a person other than the President, the reason being that the President should not be trammelled in playing "the Head of state, Head of the executive and Government" and "Head of the Cabinet" roles especially their "umpire" components. Policy making should be institutionalized and done within the guidelines of a carefully crafted "Police Charter". In the making of policy, experts and citizen representatives should be co-opted, the former to bring in a multi-disciplinary dimension and the latter to bring in the dimension of democratic control through participation.
(b) that the Head of Police Force, the Inspector General, to be the link between the policy making body and the policy implementing body, i.e. between the Political Authority and the Police Force, with managerial and technical decisions of policy implementation being left to the latter.
(c) that the Inspector General be given "Secretary" status and made responsible to the Minister in charge of the Police for the effective and efficient implementation of policy and accountable to Parliament "for the maintenance of an impartial, accountable, transparent, effective and efficient Police Force.
(d) that the Inspector General should be given a fixed term of office, commensurate remuneration and appropriate perquisites. Conditions of service and the rationale and criteria for selection and removal should be prescribed. They should be ones which facilitate the placement and retention in office of a person having the personality, character, integrity, knowledge and skills needed for being entrusted with the stewardship of a department that has been described as "being the cutting edge of government". The President should be the appointing authority and both the selection and removal processes should be open to public scrutiny.
(e) that the "mega" Police Department should be broken down into manageable departmental entities with Senior Deputy Inspectors General given "Head of Department" status and placed in charge. This, whilst facilitating the execution of policy, would also enable future Inspectors General to show their mettle and capabilities.
(f) that the Inspector General should be required to report periodically through the Minister responsible for the Police to the Cabinet on the state of the Force, and the Minister should be required periodically to have "audits on policing" done and behalf of the Cabinet to ascertain the performance of the Force. These measures should be prescribed in law. They will keep with the Cabinet the responsibility for the maintenance of "law and order" and also retain the line authority - responsibility relationship between the Minister and the Inspector General and the Minister's accountability to the Cabinet and Parliament for the actions of the Inspector General, and leave the management of the Police Force - management meaning the judicious and effective use of means to accomplish ends within the purview of the Police Force. Having indicated some of the "internal" measure required for bringing into being equilibrium and professionalism in governance and policing, some of the "external" measures required, those which fall into the other scale pan of the balance, the Second Part. are outlined below.
The first measure suggested in the current milieu for achieving the above objectives is making provision for an institution, such as a Police Service Commission, in the Constitution, to safeguard and maintain the integrity of the Police Force.
This Commission should be given the following powers and function:
(a) To examine and inquire into the organization and administration of the Police Force for ascertaining organisational and administrative efficiency and effectiveness; the conditions of service of its members and related matters; the personnel practices in the Police Force, ranging from recruitment and appointment to discharge and dismissals and other career incidents of members of the Force; and to make recommendations and give directions to the Inspector General in consultation with the Minister in charge, with the recommendations being implemented and the directions carried out within a reasonable period.
(b) To receive and determine appeals made on any order in any disciplinary proceeding in which a major punishment has been imposed on any member of the Police Force other than its Head,
(c) To advise political and other authorities when requested or as necessary, in regard to any matter relating to the Force,
(d) To delegate any of its powers and functions to members of the Commission or any other person or organization as appropriate.
(e) to employ persons or organizations as may be necessary for the discharge of its work.
(f) The Commission should submit an annual report of its activities to Parliament, and
(g) The Commission should be financed via the Consolidated Fund.
Since the composition of the Commission and the conditions of "service" of its members are crucial, the number of members of the Commission, their qualifications, rationale and criteria for appointment and removal and the selection and removal process should be prescribed in law and be open to public scrutiny. The laws enacted should be ones which enable the Commission to function independently, impartially, effectively and efficiently. The remuneration and other conditions of service of a member of the Commission should be determined by law. Such remuneration and other conditions of service should not be altered to the detriment of the member during the member's term of office. No member of the Commission should hold office in any political party or organization, or any state or business institution or organization. The second measure is the making of undue influencing of or the undue interfering with the carrying out of police functions, tasks and duties, a punishable offence, its purpose being to safeguard among other things, the integrity of Police Command and Control.
The third measure is strengthening the institutions of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, and the Human Rights Commission, its purpose being to enable members of the public, who have not been satisfied by the internal complaints handling efforts of the Police Department or who want the independent handling of complaints, to have such recourse and receive expeditious and effective redress.
This "prospectus" has attempted to prescribe a remedy for the perceived contagion outlined earlier. "Restoratives" and "vaccines" have been prescribed to cure, and then immunize the Police Force to the many forms of seduction and intimidation resorted to by those who want to subvert and corrupt it and use it to achieve their iniquitous ends.
In the making of this proposal, the following "axioms" have been kept in mind:
*"that because only policemen can really know what other policemen are doing, the most effective form of control is informal, especially that which emanates from peers,
*that too great a reliance on external supervision cab be counter-productive, weakening active and responsible regulation by police officers over one another, and
*that the primary value of external mechanisms of control may be instrumental. That is to say, external supervision is not so important for its direct and specific efforts, as for the reassurance it gives the public that someone is watching on their behalf and that in cases of default by the Police, there is a second line of defense".
In conclusion, a caveat. New basic law establishing a Police Service Commission, can only be enacted after repealing the articles in the thirteenth amendment of the Constitution on "devolved" policing. Such repeal may signal that "devolved" policing is no more on offer. To obviate this perception there should be an indication given that this law is being introduced as an urgent "interim" measure until a more acceptable and implement able scheme of "devolved" policing with enhanced democratic supervision and participation is introduced; a scheme which would enable the provision "of security and safety" to all communities equally, and especially to society at its grass roots.
"This is the first case of
sexual enslavement and the only
Mass rape and sexual enslavement in time of war will for the first time be regarded as a crime against humanity, a charge second in gravity only to genocide, after a landmark ruling from the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in the Hague this week which sentenced three Bosnian Serbs to a combined tariff of 60 years in jail.
In a judgment that is likely to have far-reaching implications for war crime trials in Rwanda, Kosovo and East Timor, the tribunal elevated systematic rape from being a mere violation of the customs of war to one of the most heinous war crimes of all - a crime against humanity.
"This verdict is a significant step for women's human rights. Sexual enslavement in armed conflict is now legally acknowledged as a crime against humanity and perpetrators can and must be held to account," said Amnesty International in a statement after the decision.
The court ruled that the three veterans of the 1992-95 Bosnian war - who stood in silence as the verdict was read out - were guilty of the systematic and savage rape, torture and enslavement of Muslim women in 1992 in the town of Foca in south-eastern Bosnia. They were convicted on 19 separate counts.
"This is the first case where sexual slavery has been charged," the UN prosecutor Dirk Ryneveld said yesterday. "What sets this apart is that this is a case in which we have a large rape camp organisation. This is the first case of sexual enslavement and the only one with sexual assaults and no murders."
In the past international courts such as the tribunals set up in Nuremberg and Tokyo after the second world war have been reluctant to class wartime rape as a serious crime of war but the Hague tribunal took a much tougher line on the issue.
The judgment will give hope to thousands of surviving "comfort women" used as sex slaves by Japanese soldiers during the second world war who have been fighting in vain for recognition and compensation from the Japanese government.
The presiding judge, Florence Mumba of Zambia, described in graphic detail how the three Bosnian Serbs had in the summer of 1992 abducted girls as young as 12 and subjected them to appalling sexual torture in sports halls and a variety of "rape houses".
"The three accused are not ordinary soldiers whose morals were merely loosened by the hardships of war. They thrived in the dark atmosphere of the dehumanisation of those believed to be enemies," she told the court.
"Rape was used by members of the Bosnian Serb armed forces as an instrument of terror," the judge concluded at the end of the 11-month trial as she read out the verdict to the three accused. "You abused and ravaged Muslim women because of their ethnicity and from among their number you picked whomsoever you fancied. You have shown the most glaring disrespect for the women's dignity and their fundamental human rights on a scale that far surpasses even what one might call the average seriousness of rapes during wartime."
Dragoljub Kunarac, 40, said to have been involved in a "nightmarish scheme of sexual exploitation", was given 28 years for rape and torture. Radomir Kovac, 39, was sentenced to 20 years for similar crimes. The third defendant, Zoran Vukovic, 45, was given a sentence of 12 years because prosecutors were able to produce less evidence in his case. He was, nevertheless, convicted of raping and torturing a 15-year-old Muslim girl who was about the same age as his own daughter. The three had looked confident before the judgment was read out, shaking hands with their lawyers, but when the verdict was pronounced Kunarac sank slowly into his seat and shook his head. In Sarajevo a group of Bosnian Muslim women reacted with fury to the sentences, which they regarded as insufficiently tough.
"We are shocked with the verdict. Justice has not been done, as the three received a minimum punishment for what they have done," argued Nezira Zolota of the Sarajevo association of former camp inmates.
Human rights groups estimate that tens of thousands of Muslim women and girls were systematically raped during the war. Many were deliberately impregnated so as to bear Serbian babies and advance the cause of ethnic cleansing.
The Guardian, London
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