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Sri Lanka's Public Security minister announces island wide operations instructing police officers to kill suspected criminals

Tiran Alles has instructed police to use "maximum force" against suspected criminals, stating the police will locate alleged drug dealers and "shoot them". 

Speaking at a press conference announcing the commencement of the island-wide drug operations. Alles went on to say that organised criminals "will end up being killed by the police or the enemy". He further added that state forces would "locate them" and that "there will be a shootout and they will end up being killed". The sitting public security minister has been implicated in financial fraud by misappropriating 124 million Sri Lankan rupees from December 2006 to 8 February 2009. Alles was also recently named in the Pandora papers for having used a network of shell companies based in the British Virgin Islands to own properties across London. 

 The selling and use of drugs across the North-East have been rising since the end of the armed conflict. The former Chief Minister CV Wigneswaran stated in 2015 that Tamil youth are being pushed into drugs and prostitution with the help of the Sri Lankan military and in recent years high profile arrests of Sri Lankan military and Police for drug possessions are common. Sri Lankan state forces have been implicated in drug trafficking, over a dozen Sri Lankan police officers from the country’s Police Narcotic Bureau (PNB) were arrested for their alleged involvement in an illegal drug ring. Speaking in parliament in 2020 JVP MP, Vijitha Herath, claimed that the murder of Makandure Madush, a notorious drug “kingpin” who was under police custody at the Maligawatte Housing complex, was done to protect 80 politicians complicit in drug trafficking. The rise in drug use and trafficking is alleged to have been connected to senior Sri Lankan politicians. Under the guise of eradicating the 'drug menace', surveillance and harassment of the Tamil populace have been increasing and militarisation of Tamil land has become rampant. A culture of impunity is endemic within the Sri Lankan judicial system, last week Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeal acquitted two soldiers who were initially sentenced to death over the 1996 gang rape and murder of a Tamil woman in Jaffna.

The decision, made by the Court of Appeal last week, saw two defendants, soldier Hevapedike Sarathchandra and Corporal Gamage Kitsiri, acquitted of all charges.

A third soldier Corporal Gamini Saman Liyenake has been ordered to have a retrial.

23-year-old Rajini Velauthapillai, from Urumpirai, was raped and murdered by the Sri Lankan military manning a checkpoint at Kondavil on September 30, 1996.

Deaths in police custody are also common. Last month, Nagarasa Alex, a 25-year-old resident of Sithankerni, Jaffna, has reportedly died due to alleged torture by Sri Lankan police. The incident has sparked outrage, with a video circulating on social media capturing the young man's harrowing account of the brutality he endured.

According to Alex's relatives, he was called for an investigation by the Vaddukkottai police on November 8. Fearing for his safety, Alex took a friend along. When the duo did not return home, their families sought answers from the police, receiving no satisfactory response.

When the families went to the police station, they claimed to have heard Alex's screams. Upon demanding to see him, the police reportedly issued threats. Subsequently, a complaint was filed with the Jaffna regional office of the Human Rights Commission.

While in detention, Alex's health deteriorated, leading to his admission to the Jaffna Teaching Hospital by the prison administration. Though he was subsequently discharged from the hospital back into police custody, he was found to be dead when brought back to the hospital on November 19, according to the cause of death form.

Read more here 

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