Member of Scottish Parliament, Mercedes Villalba, has demanded that the Scottish government provide full details of the activities offered by the International Development and Innovation Unit following calls for Police Scotland to end its training programme with Sri Lanka.
“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.
Her statement follows that of Former Scottish Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill, who has also urged Police Scotland to end all involvement in training Sri Lankan police. He warned that “Sri Lankan authorities are using Police Scotland as cover to deny repression and breaches of human rights”.
These remarks follow a damning Human Rights Watch report which detailed the abuses of Sri Lanka’s police which have been carried out under the guise of COVID-19 pandemic measures and an anti-drug campaign. These abuses include arbitrary detention, police brutality, and extra-judicial killings. The report called on international partners to cease engagement with Sri Lanka as it warned that “assistance risks appearing to endorse or lend legitimacy to agencies that are unwilling to improve their respect for human rights”.
Thus far, Police Scotland have claimed that they have temporarily suspended their programme pending an ongoing risk assessment however neither they nor the Scottish Government have confirmed if ties with Sri Lanka have been officially severed.
The Morning Star reports that there is similar concern over training programmes delivered to forces in Colombia, Qatar, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.
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