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STF security for SC, HC Judges

by Asanga Warnakulasuriya

Beginning today, Supreme Court and High Court Judges will receive armed security provided by the Special Task Force (STF) on the specific instructions of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. This will be an initial step pending the establishment of a Judicial Security Division (JSD) that will come into being shortly.

The swift Presidential action to protect members of the Judiciary comes in the wake of Friday's brutal killing of High Court Judge Sarath Ambepitiya and his bodyguard in Colombo.

The Government has also decided to re-introduce the death penalty for murder, rape and organised crime as a weapon to combat the growing crime wave sweeping the country.

STF Commandant DIG Nimal Leuke told the Daily News that the decision to deploy STF security initially for members of the Judiciary was taken at an emergency meeting chaired by the President also attended by Public Security, Law and Order Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, Commanders of Armed Forces and the IGP at the Ministry on Saturday.

DIG Leuke said President Kumaratunga instructed the immediate deployment of the STF for the judges' security and wanted highly trained individuals assigned for this task.

Following these instructions, around 40 Supreme Court and High Court Judges in the Western Province will now have armed STF escorts from their residences/quarters to the Courts and back, the DIG said.

While policemen will be on static guard at Court premises and official quarters, the STF will provide armed escort to Judges until the proposed JSD comes into being, the DIG said. The STF is in charge of training policemen for JSD, the DIG added.

Meanwhile, at an emergency meeting on Saturday several important decisions were arrived at with regard to the prevention of organised crime in the country.

Chief among them was the decision to re-introduce the death penalty for rape, murder and narcotic dealings. A decision was also taken to re-organise and strengthen the Crime Prevention Unit of the Police.

President Kumaratunga has also instructed the authorities to bring in proposed amendments to the criminal law, in addition to adopting regulations, systems and procedures to minimise law's delays, within four weeks.

An eight member committee will be tasked with considering amendments to existing laws and the introduction of new laws.

The committee comprises the Ministers of Public Security and Justice, the Ministry Secretaries, the Attorney General or his representative and two senior Lawyers and the Legal Draftsman.The first meeting of the Committee is scheduled for today at the President's House.

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