ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 52

EX-IGP to explain how Transparency got access to police info

By Chandani Kirinde

Former Inspector General Chandra Fernando is to be summoned before the Parliamentary Select Committee investigating activities of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) as row brews over how the Transparency International got access to inside information of the department, The Sunday Times learns.

The move to summon the ex-IGP comes after five senior police officers who appeared before the committee last week said they had no knowledge how Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) gained access to inside information to compile a report on corruption in the Police.

Senior DIG Bodhi Liyanage told the committee there were no official documents at Police Headquarters pertaining to the TI project and that permission for it would have been granted on a personal basis by the former IGP and not at an official level.

More than 700 policemen were given an opportunity to freely bring to light the attitudes, problems and issues faced by them within the department when the TISL was preparing its report titled “In pursuit of Absolute Integrity – Identifying causes for police corruption”. The report was released last year.

The Transparency Internationa project was undertaken following its 2001-2003 public opinion poll which reflected that the police was perceived to be the most corrupt public institution in the region including Sri Lanka.

The Select Committee is inquiring how TI got access to inside information abut the workings of the Police Department and who authorised it.

DIG Liyanage said he believed the former IGP who was commended in the Transparency report for the support he extended, had given a verbal approval for the project. “I was DIG Administration at the time and if there was anything official I would have been aware of it,” he said. JVP parliamentarian and Committee Chairman Vijitha Hearth said the names of several police officers who were still in service had also been mentioned in the Transparency report and called on the senior police officers to query them and submit a report.

He also said that TI officials who came before the Committee earlier this year had told the committee that they had sought and obtained written permission from the then IGP to conduct the survey and interview the policemen.

Executive Director of Transparency International Sri Lanka J.C. Weliamuan told the Sunday Times that they conducted their research with written authority of the former IGP.

DIG G. Thenabadu who also appeared before the Committee said he believed that some of the police officers would have been unaware that the information they were providing were for the compilation of such a report which had tainted the good name of the Sri Lanka police service and they may have given the necessary information unwittingly.

DIG Liyanage also discounted the contents of the report which said that there was a high level of corruption in the Police.“I can say that 99.9 per cent in the Police are honest people,” he said. He was supported by Director-Discipline and Conduct DIG D.S.R. Wanaguru who said that in 2006 only 46 policemen were charged with bribery and corruption while in 2005 , 52 officers were charged. “In a force comprising 70,000 men and women, it is a small number,” he said.

Asked by committee member Bimal Ratnayaka (JVP) why the Police Department had not taken measurers to deny the contents of the report, the police officers said they were in no position to do anything at the time. Asked if they would at least now take steps to challenge the contents of the report, DIG Liyanage said they would seek legal advice on the matter.

Retired Senior SSP Asela Dassanayake who worked as the project director on the TI research team on the project too will be summoned before the Committee when it next meets in June.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.