Facebook icon
Twitter icon
e-mail icon

Scottish training for Sri Lankan police criticised

British research group Corporate Watch has uncovered that the Scottish Police College has trained over 3,500 Sri Lankan police officers, including some senior commanders, funded by the UK and Scotland.

Sri Lanka is under scrutiny over hyuman rights abuses and the police is suspected to be involved in killings and disappearances, especially of Tamil speaking people.

“Investigation by Corporate Watch reveals that, in the build up to this combined police-military offensive, 48 Sri Lankan police officers were trained by the SPC from May 2007 to January 2008. One of these officers, Jayantha Wickremaratne, was then promoted to lead Sri Lanka's police from June 2008 – October 2009, commanding the force at the height of its human rights violations,” the organisation’s website stated.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay concluded a visit to the island last week and was scathing in a statement after her tour of the war-affected areas.

Phil Miller, from Corporate Watch, said to the Herald Scotland:

"She reported the country was heading in an increasingly authoritarian direction and complained about how the police had been harassing people who she had been trying to interview.

"The police were prepared to be abusive even when the UN was there and it's the Scottish Police College who have been doing a lot of training over the past six years.

"I think that raises some quite serious questions. If the country is going in a more authoritarian direction and Scottish police have been helping train the Sri Lankan police for the past six years, are they just helping to develop the police state? Do they have any concerns that this project isn't working?"

Mark Bevan, programme director for Amnesty International in Scotland, said:

"Unlawful detentions, torture, and enforced disappearances remain rife in Sri Lanka and go unpunished. It's shocking to think similar activity may have taken place while Scottish Police College training work and Scottish police officers were in the country.

"We would urge the college to investigate its engagement with the Sri Lankan police force and review their activity in light of Navi Pillay's report.

"Furthermore, we would expect them to take the strongest measures possible to ensure any Scottish police staff working with or in Sri Lanka to strongly condemn violations of human rights and in no way contribute to or suppresses reporting of these brutal violations."

Scotland’s government confirmed it funded a £400,000 training project which ended in March.

A spokesperson told the Henewspaper:

"The aim of this project was to use the extensive expertise of the Scottish Police College and other agencies to develop a new model of community policing to help promote human rights in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is now classed as a middle income state. The decision to end funding was taken to allow the Scottish Government to focus on projects in poorer countries."

We need your support

Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Tamil journalists are particularly at threat, with at least 41 media workers known to have been killed by the Sri Lankan state or its paramilitaries during and after the armed conflict.

Despite the risks, our team on the ground remain committed to providing detailed and accurate reporting of developments in the Tamil homeland, across the island and around the world, as well as providing expert analysis and insight from the Tamil point of view

We need your support in keeping our journalism going. Support our work today.

For more ways to donate visit https://donate.tamilguardian.com.