The Inspector General of Police has issued a new set of rules with regard to the appearance of lawyers in police stations, in a bid to promote and foster better relations between the members of the legal profession and police.
The rules under Police Ordinance are to be followed by all police officers.
Bar Association President Wijeyadasa Rajapaksha said lawyers had long advocated such rules and hence, welcomed them.
“My predecessors have worked hard to have such rules in place,” Mr. Rajapaksha, who is also an opposition parliamentarian, said.
He said the IGP’s move was linked to a Supreme Court’s intervention in a fundamental rights application filed by a lawyer against the police, for violating his rights about two years go.
Under the new rules, every lawyer who enters a police station for the purpose of representing a client has to be treated “cordially and courteously, and given a fair and patient hearing by the police officers.”
The rules also state a police officer “shall not, at any time during which he is dealing with an Attorney-at-Law, present in such police station for the purpose of representing and watching the interests of a person who is his/her client, use physical force on the person of such Attorney-at-Law, or resort to the use of abusive language or any other form of intimidator conduct.”
The new rules require a lawyer entering a police station to identify himself by producing his/her National Identity Card and the Identity Card issued by the BASL.
Where a lawyer comes to a police station with a suspect to hand him over to the police, the lawyer should entrust the suspect to the custody of the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) or the next senior officer.
The new rules also envisage the establishment of a four-member special committee comprising a senior officer of the Attorney General’s (AG) Department, not below the rank of Additional Solicitor General, as its ex-officio chairman, the President of the BASL, the Director Legal of the Sri Lanka Police Department and a serving member of the National Police Commission (NPC).
This Committee will monitor and facilitate the due and proper observance of these rules, and report any breaches to the IGP, and generally, to do all such acts that may promote and foster better relations between lawyers and the police.
The committee will also submit reports from time to time to the AG, the IGP and the National Police Commission.
Any police officer who violates these rules, will be subject to a disciplinary inquiry conducted by the Police Department and, if found guilty, punished under the Police Ordinance.