Police Scotland’s renewal of their training contract with Sri Lanka, despite on-going human-rights violations, has sparked demands for a Holyrood review, examining the human rights impact of their programme.
Speaking on the renewed contract, author and journalist Phil Miller, expressed alarm stating:
“The SNP has spoken out at Westminster about English police forces training repressive regimes, such as in Bahrain, and yet, over the past decade, Scottish ministers have allowed Scottish police to repeatedly work in Sri Lanka, where the island’s Tamil minority faces arrest and persecution just for trying to commemorate those who died in their own independence struggle”.
He further notes that the renewal of this contract follows a war crimes investigation launched by the Metropolitan police examining the actions of British mercenaries in Sri Lanka. Miller highlights the role of the Scottish police in training Sri Lanka's notorious STF (Special Task Force) which are accused of numerous war crimes including burning down Tamil villages.
Police Scotland Chief Superintendent David Duncan defended the training contract but refused to reveal the value of the contract. Duncan has claimed that the programme is underpinned “by a human rights approach” based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The programme has been funded by the British High Commission for a minimum of two years. Despite the refusal of Police Scotland to disclose the value of their contract, previous contracts earned £700,000.
In response to the renewal of this contract, a number of voices have called for a Holyrood review of Police Scotland’s training programme.
Pax Christi, a Catholic peace charity focusing on human rights in Sri Lanka, has supported calls for a review with Marian Pallister, a spokesperson for the organisation stating:
“As a member organisation of an international peace movement, we are concerned on a number of levels”.
Member of Scottish Parliament Neil Findlay also questioned the renewal, stating that Police Scotland has made almost 100 deployments to Sri Lanka in the past eight years despite increasing concerns over ongoing violence by Sri Lanka’s special forces against the Tamil community.
“How can our government condone these human rights breaches and allow our police force to continue having anything to do with a country with such a record of violence against its own people?” he said.
Naomi McAuliffe, Amnesty International’s Scotland Programme Director, also support this call stating:
“We have called on Police Scotland to conduct robust human rights impact assessments on any overseas programme, whether delivered in-country or if officers from international forces attend training in Scotland [...] Partnerships with global law enforcement agencies should be entered into with full consideration of potential human rights abuses or whether such associations add credibility to forces operating in areas with an appalling track record of suppressing rights.”
Read more from the Sunday Post.