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Former senior British police chief hired by Sri Lanka for reform program

The Sri Lankan cabinet has approved a proposal to hire Sir Hugh Orde, the former President of the Association of Chief Police Officers and Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), in order to advise on reforms to the Sri Lankan police.

Law and Order and Southern Development Minister Sagala Ratnayake put forward the proposals to cabinet this week, having met with Sir Hugh in October with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Colombo Gazette quoted the government as saying Sir Hugh would be used in “restructuring the Police Service to make the Sri Lanka Police Service a proud profession based on principles of good governance”.

In an interview with the Sunday Observer during his visit to Sri Lankan earlier this year, the former senior policeman said that his effort is  “to help and advise the government on various recommendations being made as the Sri Lanka Police drives their own reforms program forward”.

“I have noticed some gaps that need to be looked at, in particular around Police intelligence,” he said, adding “I am very interested in looking at the role of intelligence and how it works and all the oversights.”

When asked about the use of torture by Sri Lankan police, Sir Hugh stated,

“The moment the Police step outside the law to enforce the law, you’re on the road to anarchy. If we cannot build a case without professional investigating methods to convict the right person then it is better not to convict anyone.”

“The issue of torture is non negotiable. It is not a conditional right but an absolute right of the suspect. Officers who abuse this should be dealt with severely.”

See the full text of his interview here.

Recent reports revealed that the use of torture remains a serious issue in Sri Lanka, an island that has a long history of security forces committing human rights violations. A recently published report by the Associated Press confirmed that in 2017, cases of torture were still being reported by Tamil asylum seekers fleeing the island.

The hiring of Sir Hugh comes amidst the release of undercover footage from the Scottish Police Academy last week, revealing deep links between Scottish police and Sri Lanka’s Special Task Force – a notorious paramilitary unit that has been accused of directly carrying out war crimes.