Writing to Police Scotland and Keith Brown MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Sarah Boyack, Member of Scottish Parliament for Lothian Region, raised concerns over Police Scotland’s training of Sri Lanka’s police force.
She urged Police Scotland to inform the public of the metric they use to judge whether their intervention in Sri Lanka is successful. She further added:
“It is vital to ensure that this publicly-funded work is supporting the police force in Sri Lanka to protect against human rights abuses not, as has been alleged, endorse abusive behaviour or embolden the Rajapaksa regime”.
In her statement she highlighted concerns raised by Human Rights Watch that continued engagement was “endorsing the actions of an abusive police force”. The report publish by Human Rights Watch details a litany of abuses engaged in by the Sri Lankan police including arbitrary arrests, police brutality, and extrajudicial killings.
Her statement comes as Police Scotland faces mounting criticism with multiple human rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch, Freedom from Torture, Pax Christi Scotland, the International Truth and Justice Project, and the Sri Lanka Peace and Justice Campaign, urging Scottish Justice Secretary Keith Brown to officially cut ties with Sri Lanka’s police.
They have been joined by a number of Scottish parliamentarians including Member of Scottish Parliament, Mercedes Villalba, who has demanded that the Scottish government provide full details of the activities offered by the International Development and Innovation Unit
“I simply cannot see how the Scottish government can credibly promote human rights while ignoring the fact that Police Scotland are actively training police forces in countries which continue to commit serious human rights violations,” she told reporters.
Former Scottish Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill, has urged Police Scotland to end all involvement in training Sri Lankan police warning that “Sri Lankan authorities are using Police Scotland as cover to deny repression and breaches of human rights”.
Read Sarah Boyack’s full letter here.