It has been brought to the attention of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) that officers attached to the Police Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and Terrorist Investigations Division (TID) of the Sri Lanka Police have adopted certain unlawful practices in violation of the rights of Attorneys-at-law and of their clients in custody/detention including the right of access to lawyers and the right to privileged professional communication during visits by lawyers to obtain instruction from their clients.
The BASL has learnt that during such visits by lawyers, there have been reported instances of audio and video recording of consultations between lawyers and their clients, and that police officers are seated within hearing distance of such consultations in order to closely monitor the conversations between them. In certain instances, police officers have sat through consultations between lawyers and clients in violation of legal rights of both lawyers and their clients.
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka BASL committed to uphold the Rule of Law and Independence of the Judiciary is shocked that such unlawful practices have been adopted contrary to rights of persons in custody/detention guaranteed by law.
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka BASL wishes to remind law enforcement agencies that the provisions of Article 12(1) of the Constitution guarantees equal protection of the law to all persons and reiterates the imperative obligation imposed by the provisions of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances Act No. 5 of 2018 to ensure that all persons deprived of liberty shall have right of access to an Attorney at Law notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any other law.
In the circumstances the BASL demands the Inspector General of Police and Heads of the CID and TID to ensure that police officers under their chain of command do not engage in such unlawful practices and requests that officers be directed to desist therefrom.
In the event such unlawful practices continue, the BASL would be compelled to have recourse to ensure that legal rights of its members and their clients in custody/detention are respected and upheld.