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Early lead for UNP, but result wide open
UNP media spokesman Karunasena Kodituwakku welcomed the poll results saying
it was an early sign of the victory to come while Minister A. H. M. Fowzie
expressed confidence that a large majority of the undecided voters would
come to the PA and swing the balance.
The JVP was thrilled with the results with propaganda secretary Wimal
Weerawansa saying it showed the massive swing towards the party.
The UNP-led United National Front appears to have taken an early lead
in the general election battle — but with an increasing trend towards the
JVP and as many as 11 percent of the people undecided, the question as
to who will form the next government is still open, an opinion poll revealed.
The poll conducted for The Sunday Times by the independent research
consultancy group Survey Research Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd. in all parts of the
country except the north and east, gave the UNF 40.4 percent, the PA 33.4
percent and the JVP 12.8 with 11.2 percent undecided.
The poll made among a selected cross section of 2,400 people above the
age of 19 during a period from October 27 to November 1, 2001, also showed
important or interesting trends and thinking patterns in other areas.
Another research group Org-Marg Smart also conducted a poll for The
Sunday Times, covering the period October 30-November 1. While the results
on the overall positions of the major parties will be released later, the
poll showed interesting or important trends among the people on related
Survey Research Lanka
Survey Research Lanka (Pvt) Ltd is an independent Research Consultancy
which offers a range of specialist services in the fields of Marketing,
Media, Social and Opinion Surveys. Established in October 1989.
SRL conducted its first Political Opinion Poll in 1994 prior to the
Presidential Elections of that year. The results of that Poll indicated
the impending change in the political fabric of this country. The second
Opinion Poll was conducted by SRL before the General Elections 2000 - the
results of which did not differ significantly from the actual outcome of
Org-Marg Smart is an independent private market, social and economic research
agency undertaking research mainly in the areas of consumer goods services.
It is the country's pioneer market research agency to conduct independent
opinion polls regularly in Sri Lanka.
The company in a statement says:
"The views expressed are purely inferred from the results of the opinion
polls and in no way reflect that of the research agency. We earnestly request
those who read this report not to announce/publish/re-produce any of the
results contained herein out of context.
"The poll was conducted among an islandwide sample of 1250 respondents.
covering the 17 districts outside the North and East, to represent the
entire voting population of the country in these areas. The field work
was conducted during October 30-November 5, 2001."
Focus on Rights - By Kishali Pinto Jayawardene
Who guards the guards themselves?
The Inspector General of Police in this country, who is doubtless an "honourable
man as they are all, indeed, honourable men (and women)", would do well
if he scrutinizes a particular judgement of the Supreme Court this week
that is of extreme relevance to the police force over which he is proud
to preside. The judgement (Kemasiri Kumara Caldera v OIC, Seeduwa Police
Station and others SC(FR) 343/99) should be read by the IGP for the reason
for its telling of the brutal levels to which this society has degenerated
and for the manner in which it delivers a scathing indictment on officers
under his command and their impunity and utter disregard of the law.
The particular incident before Court is so frighteningly commonplace
that it could have happened to any citizen of this country. Indeed, one
can point to numerous like instances which have also been brought before
courts by victims in past years. They all illustrate instances of private
disputes brought to police stations where the perpetrators have strong
political connections and where the police has taken the side of the latter
without any regard to fairness or their duties under the law.
In this case, the facts were particularly horrifying, where the petitioner,
the son of a well known musician and himself, a budding musician had already
been seriously injured in a dispute which had occurred on the road but
the police had refused to take down his complaint, had assaulted his brother
and friend who had come with him and put them into a cell and then when
the petitioner had attempted to go by himself to admit himself to hospital,
had proceeded behind the petitioner repeatedly shooting at him and in fact,
shot at him after he stopped the vehicle and was sitting in the driving
At the time of filing his application, Caldera still had pellets in
his body, had been bedridden for around one and a half years, had been
warned by the surgeons that he may not be able to walk again in the future
and was unable to properly discharge his bowel and urine functions. At
the time of coming before court, he was approximately twenty years old.
What distinguishes this case however, (apart from the extent of injuries
suffered by the petitioner), was the blatant manner in which the Court
found the police to have falsified their documents and embarked on "total
fabrications." In the judgement of Edussuriya J. (with whom Amerasinghe
J. and Wadugodapitiya J. agreed), the Court points out that the impunity
and utter disregard with which entries have been falsified by the police
makes "one wonder whether the supervising A.S.P.s and S.P.s are derelict
in the discharge of their duties or in the alternative, condone such acts."
The Court went on to ask a very pertinent question thus; "…..the police
force appears to be full of such errant officers. The question is what
is the 5th respondent (the Inspector General of Police) doing about it?
In my view, it is unsafe for a court to accept a certified copy of any
statement or notes recorded by the police without comparing it with the
original. It is lamentable fact that the police who are supposed to protect
the ordinary citizens of the country have become violators of the law,
we may ask with Juvenal, 'quis custodiet ipsos custodes?' - who is to guard
the guards themselves?"
The Supreme Court, interestingly found on the facts of the case that,
not only was Caldera's right to be free from illegal arrest and detention
violated but also his right to be free from cruel and inhuman treatment.
Record compensation of rupees seven lakhs were ordered to be paid, one
lakh each by the police officers found responsible for what he had to undergo
and the rest by the State.
This week's judgement is important in that as observed at the start
of this column, Caldera's agony is by no means uncommon in this country
nor is this the only instance where the Supreme Court passed such strictures
on the police force. On the contrary, the Court has repeatedly issued reprimands,
notably in one heinous case in 1995 where a 14 year old girl had been tortured
by police officers resulting in the impairment of the sight of one eye.
On this occasion, the Supreme Court expressed its disgust in the following
"In many cases in the past, this Court has observed that there was a
need for the Inspector General of Police to take action to prevent infringements
of fundamental rights by police officers, and where such infringements
nevertheless occur, this Court has sometimes directed that disciplinary
proceedings be taken. The response has not inspired confidence in the efficacy
of such observations and directions………"
The tremendously damaging effect of cases like this on Sri Lanka's international
human rights record is, of course, without a doubt. Regardless, this pattern
of police abuse and related impunity continues to be viewed by the Inspector
General of Police and indeed, the Head of State of this country, with an
indifference that borders on the unbelievable. As we well saw in the recent
famous (or rather infamous) BBC's 'Hardtalk" where one of the most experienced
interviewers in the world brought a disastrous session with the President
of Sri Lanka to a fittingly inglorious close when he questioned her about
why "the Supreme Court proclaims that the IGP does not take any notice
of what it says…." and the only answer was that "these may have been only
a couple of times.." and ultimately that "…..she does not know." As a citizen
of this paralysed country, one cannot but wonder what greater shame can
one be subject to?