The Centre of Policy Alternatives (CPA) is deeply concerned with the appointment of two Presidential Task Forces by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Earlier this week, the president established a Task Force consisting of entirely military and police personnel to build a "virtuous, disciplined and lawful society" in Sri Lanka which raises "extremely serious implications that require urgent attention" says the CPA.
"The mandate of the Task Force is vague and overbroad, terms such as 'anti-social activities' have no specific legal meaning which raises concern as to how the Task Force intends to take legal action against such activities."
"Moreover, regardless of its intended role, CPA finds it problematic that the Task Force is designed in a manner to operate as a parallel structure to existing entities, circumventing the role of the Cabinet of Ministers and purportedly capable of giving direct orders/ instructions to the Public Service."
The president also announced an all Sinhala Task Force to "preserve the historical heritage of Sri Lanka" in the Eastern Province.
"At the outset this raises troubling questions as to whether the Task Force is intentionally undermining the multi ethnic identity in the province with a possible attempt to defeine a mono ethnic dominant narrative...Compounded by Sri Lanka's past, the appointment of such Task Forces raises questions of its need, intent and implications for the future."
"These appointments come at a time when the executive has a free hand to 'govern' without the customary checks and balances on the exercise of executive power and authority. This we firmly believe to be a basic and fundamental tenant of parliamentary democracy."
"Moreover, CPA's concerns are fundamentally tied to the increasing practice of militarisation and securitisation of government and governance in Sri Lanka, where key decisions and decision making are being consolidated in the hands of retired and/or serving security force and police personnel."
Read the CPA's full statement here.