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Progress in crime-busting

THE bringing to justice of the five accused in the Judge Sarath Ambepitiya murder case, exemplifies the degree to which the law and order machinery has been rejuvenated in Sri Lanka. Law's Delays were prominent by their absence in this trial which firmly establishes that due process of the law is not a distant dream.

Despite the cynics we are compelled to observe that the law and order agencies are discharging their duties more effectively now than before. This is attributable to the fact that they are reflecting a better sense of purpose and direction under the guidance of President Kumaratunga.

On the other hand, the law and order authorities suffered considerable debilitation under the short-lived UNF government. The now infamous Athurugiriya safe house scandal which shook the confidence of many a law-enforcer and which acted as a fillip to the LTTE's ruthless hunt of army intelligence operatives all over the country, epitomised the mismanagement of the country's defence establishment by the UNF regime.

This was in addition to the LTTE's arms smuggling operations which burgeoned under the Nelsonian eye of the then administration. The consequences of the demoralisation and debilitation of the defence establishment and the police were seen in the soaring crime rate. Crime rose in tandem with corruption until President Kumaratunga stepped in to stem the rot.

That such intervention has had a positive impact is seen in the decreasing crime wave. To be sure, we are still a long way from establishing absolute internal stability and calm but there is no disputing that considerable headway has been made by the police in checking and containing crime.

The criminal underworld, for instance, is not as active as it used to be. It has been placed on the defensive by the special crime busting units which are a brainchild of IGP Chandra Fernando, and we urge the latter to keep-up the pressure on these enemies of society.

Likewise, a sustained drive must be conducted against the forces that perpetuate moral decadence in this country. It has been quite some time since massage and comfort parlours and other establishments of dubious repute took root in our soil. It is no secret that most of these establishments are really houses of ill-fame.

Some of them were even peopled by cash-starved foreign prostitutes. Since the crime crackdown began in earnest under President Kumaratunga, such blighting influences are being contained. Foreign prostitutes are reportedly now a dwindling presence.

Much, however, remains to be done. The law must not only be enforced firmly but impartially too. In the minds of the public the impression needs to gain ground that crime of any kind just doesn't pay any more. Such an impression is the foundation for respect for law and order.

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