Scottish Police are reported to have put on hold an ongoing scheme to train Sri Lankan Police officers but is yet to officially inform the authorities in Colombo.
Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekara said yesterday that he was unaware of reports that Police Scotland had put the long-running programme to train Sri Lankan police officers on hold.
The training programme was renewed again for two more years in January this year and was set to go on until 2023.
Foreign media had reported that the programme had been halted following criticism of human rights groups and some British MPs. It had been under review since early May this year because of concerns over the human rights record of the units being trained, the reports noted.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch last week called on the Scottish national force to “suspend assistance programmes until there is progress on accountability and reform” in the country.
The global watchdog has reported a surge in police abuses in Sri Lanka during the pandemic, including extrajudicial killings, torture and arbitrary detention.
Minister Weerasekara dismissed these charges levelled against the Sri Lankan Police by foreign human rights groups.
“How can they level any such charges? Have they actually done any investigation to prove those claims? It is very unfair if they (Police Scotland) have suspended such a training programme simply on such claims,” the minister said.
Police Spokesman and Senior Deputy Inspector General (SDIG) Ajith Rohana said he was also unaware if the programme, which he said had been running for more than 10 years, had been suspended.