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‘Yukthiya’ operation: BASL to apprise Prez & Alles of grave concerns

‘Yukthiya’ operation: BASL to apprise Prez & Alles of grave concerns

04 Jan 2024 | BY Buddhika Samaraweera

  • SL not a Police State: BASL Prez Nawaratne

Claiming that they are seriously concerned about the way the Police works in the case of the islandwide operation “Yukthiya” (Justice) aimed at eliminating drug trafficking and organised crime, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) stated that they would be taking up the issue with all stakeholders including President and Defence Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Public Security Minister Tiran Alles.

The islandwide operation “Yukthiya”, which was announced a day in advance, was first launched on 17 December 2023 on the instructions of Alles and Acting Inspector General of Police Deshabandu Tennakoon. It is being launched with the support of other security forces such as the Police Special Task Force and the Army. During raids conducted throughout the country, thousands of suspects have been arrested for possession of drugs and their alleged involvement in various crimes.

Speaking to The Daily Morning yesterday (3), the BASL President, President’s Counsel (PC) Kaushalya Nawaratne said that they were concerned about the way the Police works in the case of this operation. “The Police is taking hundreds and thousands of suspects into custody, remanding them, getting detention orders (DO) issued, demolishing properties, and taking over properties. Basically, it is the Police that decides what to do. They cannot do it. This is not a Police State."

Emphasising that there is a process and law to be followed, he said that the operation must go through the legal system. “There are judges in the country and this must go through the legal procedure. We have raised our concerns regarding this not once but many times. But they have escalated this now. We are currently in the process of finalising certain communications to be made with regard to this matter. We will take up these issues not only with the Minister (Alles) but with all other stakeholders including the President.”

According to the Public Security Ministry, more than 20,797 suspects have been arrested during the first 14 days of the operation, from 17 to 31 December 2023. As of 31 December 2023, investigations on 1,018 of them were being conducted on DOs while another 1,298 suspects had been referred for rehabilitation programmes. 

The Police had commenced investigations on 189 suspects on charges related to illegal assets. A total of 1,625 suspects who had been on the lists of wanted suspects by the Police Narcotics Bureau and the Special Crime Investigation Branch have also been arrested. In addition, the Police had seized properties belonging to suspected drug dealers including houses and vehicles as of the said date, and the approximate value of such was said to be over Rs. 558.5 million.  

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