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Scotland criticised over training of Sri Lankan police

Scotland has faced criticism over a training program for more than 3500 Sri Lankan policemen, which takes place as the Sri Lankan government comes under investigation by the United Nations for war crimes and gross violations of international humanitarian law.

The program, funded by the UK Foreign Office, will see senior Sri Lankan commanders receive training from the Scottish Police College
and is set to run until the end of 2015.

The Sunday Herald reports that the program aims to embed “international standards in police training”.

The report comes as the Commonwealth Games drew to a close in Glasgow, with hundreds of protesters highlighting the Sri Lankan states repression of the Tamils at the opening ceremony. The Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is Chairperson-in-office of the Commonwealth, did not attend the Games due to the protests.

Phil Miller, a researcher who authored a report on Britain's close relationship with the Sri Lankan state said,

"The Scottish Police College must quit Sri Lanka now... There would be uproar if president Rajapaksa came to Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games, so why are Scottish police still going out to Sri Lanka?"

Miller's comments were echoed by Siobhan Reardon, Amnesty International Scotland's programme director, who said, “It is important to recognise the structural nature of impunity in Sri Lanka.”

She went on to add,

"Human rights defenders and campaigners rightly celebrate president Rajapaksa's decision not to attend the Commonwealth Games. However, it seems this is a missed opportunity to discuss Sri Lanka's appalling human rights record including the systemic failure to investigate war crimes.”

"At present, any training of the security forces can be problematic given the role of the police... and other law enforcement and military personnel in serious violations of human rights... Without support for independent institutions, including a Police Commission free from political interference, training will not help to check the culture of impunity."

See the full report from the Sunday Herald here.

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