The gang rape and murder of an 18-year-old Tamil school girl in the Pungudutivu region of Jaffna 2015 May sparked protests in the Northern Province. The protests against sexual harassment demanding death sentence of the accused broke out in Jaffna town. The Jaffna Magistrate Court and private vehicles were damaged and policemen were injured during the protest. The accused were harassed by the villagers and the video record was massively spreading. Properties of innocent people were taken and burned by the protester.
Some of the participants reviewed the incidents happened during the protest, realizing that many issues could be improved. They also concerned how to identify the law enforcement’s inability and, as young activists engaging in social movement, how to strike the balance between maintaining law and order and achieving their demands.
Responding to their request, AFRIEL held the Training on Advocacy and Rights Based Approach of Youth Leader on July 4th, 2015. Topics covered the necessity of the death penalty, the legitimacy of lynching as well as advocacy strategy.
The trainer, Mr. D. M. Dissanayake, introduced about the rights and liabilities of court and police officers and, combining with case studies, analyzed the domestic widespread improper law enforcement problem on the basis of the supervision and subordination relationship between government agencies. He suggested that the political intervention should be completely removed from the Department of Police.
Since the police have no right to make judgments, but to assist in the investigation, the trainer recommended the young participants should focus on the agencies which can make judgment, namely, the court, and should try to expose the evidence instead of attacking government offices and private property while demanding justice, which would be more effective in reaching demands and enhance governance positively.
We received great feedback from the training participants. Many people mentioned that the public read the over-dramatic news reports about the rape case, but they did not clearly understand the criminal justice system, including legal arrest, bail-out and charges. They felt this training workshop given them a space to start a rational dialogue and they wanted to spread the knowledge to the grassroots villages. AFRIEL is starting to plan monthly training and dialogue on other human rights topics according to the participants’ request.