The Government of Sri Lanka is planning to amend the Criminal Procedure Code permitting police to keep a suspect in police custody for 48 hours, without being produced before a judicial officer. Lawyer for Democracy (LfD) is deeply concerned about this move and urges the government not to resort to such an amendment, which has far reaching consequences on the liberties of the citizens.
LfD is of the view that the proposed amendment increasing non judicial custody from 24 hours to 48 hours is another step to curb the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens of the country. Section 34 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which prohibits the detention of an arrested person for more than 24 hours and the provisions in the Criminal Procedure Code on arrest, search and investigation of offences, provisions of the Evidence Ordinance regarding the non admissibility of confessions to police officers and presumption of innocence are pillars on which our criminal law is built from time immemorial. These rights were protected under the Donoughmore and Soulbery Constitutions and were respected by all branches of the state. It is unfortunate that while the second Republican Constitution has been in operation under “democratically elected” leaders of our own country, there is presently a complete breakdown of Rule of Law and respect for human rights. The instance move to amend the Criminal Procedure Code should be viewed in that background and should be rejected by all those who respect Rule of Law. LfD is also mindful of the fact that long detentions at police stations have also resulted in torture and degrading treatments at the hands of the police.
LfD therefore opposes the proposed Amendment and call upon the Government to withdraw the proposed amendment. We also call upon the Bar Association of Sri Lanka to register its opposition clearly and without any further delay.