A good example | Daily News

A good example

Police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana has stated that those assigned to provide security to politicians, from among the Police (including STF) service, were duty bound to assist the Police in instances where such politicians or VIPs absconded or evaded the law enforcement under any circumstance.

Addressing a media briefing on Wednesday, DIG Rohana who is also an Attorney-at-Law said such a member of a Police guard who fails to assist the law enforcement vis-a-vis the whereabouts of the absconding politician/VIP could be prosecuted under Section 209 of the Penal Code for harbouring and concealing a suspect.

This followed the arrest of a Police constable in the security detail of Samagi Jana Balavegaya MP Rishad Bathiudeen, on Tuesday evening, in the Wellawatte police area. The controversial politician who is wanted by the Police in respect of multiple cases, up to the time of writing, had been evading arrest. This is the first time in recent memory that the Penal Code has been invoked against Police officers guarding VIPs and would be a good example for the Police force as a whole.

True, there may be a law in the statute books that provides for legal action against Police personnel in such circumstances. But can the terms ‘harbouring’ and ‘concealing’ be used in a broader sense where the suspects happen to be MPs, Ministers or other VIPs?

Will any Police officer in the security detail of a VIP act as an informant against his ‘master’ without fearing the consequences that are bound to visit upon him thereafter? How is the law going to be implemented impartially in such a situation?

It is also known that close bonds are formed between MPs and members of their security detail very often, over a period of time. In such circumstance, it is indeed foolhardy to think that a Policeman providing security to an MP would provide information on his master to the authorities simply to escape the repercussions of the law.

We saw how such a bond was formed by a politician from Kelaniya, not many moons ago, who virtually got his Police security detail to do his bidding at every turn including manhandling media personnel. This politician publicly found fault with a senior Police officer of the Division who failed to turn up at an event presided over by the former.

Can, therefore, a Police officer serving in the security detail of a VIP politician be in a position to strictly abide by the terms of the prevailing law? One must also not forget that not long ago some politicians were in the habit of occupying the chair of the OIC of the local police station and giving orders to the area police. It is not known if such practices still prevail, but such scenarios certainly will not inspire Police officers providing security to VIP politicians to act in terms of their duty and the law.

Besides, the terms ‘harbouring and ‘concealing’, as contained in the Penal Code may appear bizarre where the suspects concerned are politicians. This is because there may be instances where the politician concerned who had fallen foul of the law going on a secret rendezvous dispensing with his Police security for obvious reasons. How will the Police view the failure of the officer in the security detail to inform of the politician’s whereabouts in such instances?

It is moot, under the prevailing circumstances, if Police officers providing security to politicians will risk their necks to blow the whistle against their political masters. To begin with, most VIPs usually have the pick of their security detail and recruit only those officers who are known to them. There have also been instances where such Police officers, following the orders of their VIP masters, had used strong arm tactics against the rivals of the politico concerned.

There have also been the occasions where police officers providing security act in a servile manner before their political bosses bringing disgrace to the entire Police service. The reported instance, sometime ago, where a female MP got the Police officers assigned for her protection to carry out domestic chores, readily comes to mind.

Hence, under the circumstances, provisions of the Penal Code will be difficult to be applied against Police officers serving in the security detail of politicians given the complex nature of the relations between the Police officer and the politician(s) concerned.

Also in a scenario where the police service, like all other State institutions, is politicized, expecting such Utopian concepts to prevail in the country’s law enforcement is asking for too much indeed. Nothing short of a radical transformation of the Police service from its present moribund, obsolete state, as we have been constantly advocating in these spaces, would be able to put things right. In fact, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has stressed this very point in several recent speeches.