VIP security and law and order
The recent regulations
with regard to the provision of VIP protection, we hope, would
go some distance in fostering greater security for the
citizenry. Unauthorized weapons have been an unresolved issue in
this country for quite some time and this question has been
instrumental in aggravating some of the law and order issues
confronted by Sri Lanka. But security matters are further
complicated when those who are authorized to carry arms are not
easily distinguishable from the citizenry on account of their
not donning the relevant uniforms and required attire.
Some of these problems were thrown-up afresh by the recent
shoot-out in Mulleriyawa which claimed the life of Presidential
Advisor Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra.
In the fierce confrontation which arose between the relevant
parties, some persons in civilian garb exchanged fire with each
other, but the onlooker would have been highly puzzled as to who
among them were legitimate security personnel attached to VIPs
and who were not, on account of the civilian attire donned by
those charged with providing security. Therefore, it is most
timely that the rule has been introduced that security personnel
attached to VIPs should be donned in official uniforms.
It is well known that some politicians deploy 'private
armies' for their protection in contravention of the law. If
legitimate security personnel too are to be attired in civilian
clothes, distinguishing these official security men from illegal
armed outfits would prove arduous and this is sometimes indeed
It should be an inviolable regulation that those authorized
to carry weapons do so in official uniforms of the state. This
would help a great deal in curbing lawless behaviour, since the
official uniform would always have a restraining influence on
mobs, for instance. Besides, the security personnel of the
politicians concerned would be in a position to resolve any
tensions that may arise among their supporters on account of
their enhanced visibility.
Regulations such as these will help greatly in strengthening
the Rule of Law and we would be stating the obvious by saying
that this is the desired order of things in post-conflict
situations. For one thing, illegal arms should be a thing of the
past and we urge the state to lose no time in rounding-up and
destroying all such weapons which plunged Sri Lanka into anarchy
in the past.
The law should be enforced firmly, that only those authorized
should bear arms and all superfluous arms be handed over to the
Second, we also need to see an end to 'private armies' and
the like which have been instrumental in spreading a 'gun
culture' and lawlessness in this country in the past.
These menaces of the past are best eliminated through the
deployment of the law and order machinery of the state and we
had an important clarification from the state authorities a
couple of days back that this will be carried out by the Police
with assistance from the Army, only if necessary.
This is as it should be because it is in keeping with the
democratic traditions of the country that internal law and order
be always provided by the Police, except in the case of extreme
situations when the Armed Forces are introduced. However, there
are no such exceptional situations in this country now and the
Police should be the principal law enforcer. That said, there is
no getting away from the need to have absolute internal law and
order and every legitimate means must be used to further this
end while ensuring that our democratic ethos continues
As we said a couple of days back, while VIP security must be
ensured, this must be done on a selective basis.
While the security needs of those VIPs occupying sensitive
positions in the state must be met always, the security
paraphernalia of other functionaries who are not really at risk
must be scaled-down and eliminated. This needs to be done
because citizens need to live in a tension-free atmosphere where
their rights are respected and cherished. Too many armed
personnel in public could detract from these aims.
We are happy that the need to have absolute domestic security
is being addressed by the state. While this is perfectly in
order, we must seek that all-important transition to a state of
affairs where peace too would be absolute. The latter is
established on the basis of durable fraternal ties and good will
among all sections of our people. A spirit of humanity too
emerges as an absolute.