Sri Lanka : Code of Ethics for Police
by Anurangi Singh
(August 28, 2016, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The National Police Commission has provided guidelines as to how the Police should conduct themselves when questioning suspects and exercising power in its newly formed Code of ethics.
The new ethics looks to minimize unprofessional conduct, to exercise high standards of professionalism and to enhance accessibility to the police service.
Introducing the norms in a code of ethics is only a part of the bigger plan, Chairman of the National Police Commission Prof Siri Hettige told the local media. “There is no one thing that you can do to bring about change. There are several interventions that you need to make. So we have made several short term, medium term and long term interventions. These norms have to be looked into in that larger context. This is not a magic wand, but one among many interventions. In that way this will make a difference and make a contribution to bring about a positive change,” he said.
The Code of ethics reiterates that police should understand that they are not vested with judicial powers and not empowered to punish the people. Police should not presume the suspect to be an accused, it says.
Exercise of police powers should be done only if and when the need arises. Suspects should be provided with medical provisions and services when during custody. With regards to exercising powers when questioning, the code clearly states that questioning should be carried out without rough treatment.
The police do not have a legal right to cover behind excuses such as higher orders, threat to the national security nor due to a public unrest to treat suspects in a cruel, inhuman or degrading manner.
As much as it is important to impute these values to the police force, the focus should be at the training, Prof Hettige said. Accordingly he went on to say; “This will become part of the training so that it will be impressed upon them from the beginning of their training. But at the same time people have to adapt themselves to changing circumstances.”
According to him this caters to build about a good relationship between the police and the public. “The idea is to raise the bar so that you elevate yourself to a higher level of performance, a higher level of work, higher level of moral consciousness, higher level of ethical conduct,” he said.