ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday December 16, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 29

Draw up checkpoint guidelines

In the light of the recent Supreme Court decision it will be opportune to raise a pertinent matter. That is the total lack of a standard practice at checkpoints which now dot the city and elsewhere.

At some checkpoints:

  • we have to remain in the vehicle and an officer approaches and requests identification,

  • an officer approaches and requests us to alight from the vehicle and produce identification,

  • we have to alight from the vehicle and walk up to the officer and produce our identification -- then he walks back with us to the vehicle -- and peers into the vehicle -- looks at the passengers -- and sometimes requests them for identification and sometimes not,

  • we have to alight, produce identification and open the boot and the officer peers into it,

  • all passengers have to alight from the vehicle,

If at night:

  • an officer holds a light stick,

  • an officer holds an unlit stop sign, which escapes the driver's notice if he is disturbed by the headlights of an incoming vehicle,

  • an officer casually puts up his hands as if he is shooing a stray dog, which escapes the driver's notice because of headlights of an oncoming vehicle. And then:

  • the officer brings a flash light to look at our documents,

  • some officers depend on street lights to peruse documents,

  • some officers take the documents up to the head lights of the vehicle to peruse them,

  • other officers flash a torch into the vehicle and go away,

In addition to these, there are several permutations and combinations of the above depending on the whims and fancies of the particular officer. It is high time that all those responsible (the IGP and armed forces chiefs) issue one standard set of instructions to all personnel at checkpoints as to what they are required to do and what they require us to do.

It is also necessary to give the widest possible publicity (both print and electronic) to these guidelines so that we the citizens (for whose benefit they say this is all being done) will know what we are expected to do and what we are not.

By Nihal Ratnayake, Dehiwala

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