My parents were in conversation with a Buddhist priest who is in the middle of a Human Rights case with the Police over a raid on the temple he is head honcho of. You may know (of) him, but I am not mentioning any names.
According to the case, the Police of the area raided his temple because they received an anonnymous tip that there were bombs, explosives, and other implements of destruction in the temple. And considering that The Beast is living in constant fear of an attempt to take his beloved power away from him, the place was raided. Of course it was helped by the fact that he was well connected with the UNP and had facilitated many a cross-party deal.
So his place gets raided. He also claims that there was an attepmt by the raiding officers to plant some explosives at the temple.
The next step is to file a Human Rights case against the police. Not just the cops who were directly involved in the raid, but also the OIC who ordered the raid. This is not news. We have so many HR cases happening in Sri Lanka that being a HR lawyer is practically a growth industry. Hardly worth a mention, let alone a blog post.
But as Baldrick would say, "I have a cunning plan."
When a HR case is filed against a Government servant, the person is not allowed to be promoted or transferred until the case is concluded. This means that if the cases drag on (as they often do in Sri Lanka) the person has no promotions for the entire duration of the case. Which sometimes can be as long as 10-15 years.
Now the priest in question has a lot of time on his hands. He also has deep pockets, running one of the more profitable temples in the area. He can afford to go on. He can throw sand in the axles. He can afford to run the case for a long time, calling for extensions, bringing more motions, whatever. Speak to a lawyer and he'll tell you far more about dragging a case than Yours Truly ever could.
But the final part of this is that the policemen cannot be promoted until the case is over. Everyone from the PC to the OIC are now stuck to that position. No more promotions, no more pay hikes unless they are the usual hikes for someone in your rank. In effect, your career has been frozen for the next 8-10 years. All because you gave in to some politician's revenge scheme.
The idea behind this is the creation of a Chilling Effect.
Now while traditionally a chilling effect - the silencing of opposition via legal attacks on more visible members which then leads to the silencing of other members (self-censorship) because of a fear of similar attacks - is based on legal attacks, in Sri Lanka it has escalated to murder, arson, physical attacks, and
It is a well known fact that most such acts are carried out by members of the police and the various armed forces. Some of these are done by policemen in plain clothes. But with the prevalence of cameras on cellphones, it is now possible to get photographic evidence, and to identify the people. And further, to take them to courts.
chilling effect works both ways. If the government can silence critics by its legal and extra-legal methods, so can the people stop those activities via legal methods. Enough HR cases, enough cops realising that their advancement prospects can be - at least temporarily - suspended because they did something that even they know is illegal, and the enforcement arm will start being a lot less helpful when somebody needs to be
taken care of.
In a land where the general person has no access to arms and other forms of self-defence, where the police are not the protectors of the citizenry but the hired thugs of those in power, where people few to no rights, the only defence is the courts. Although that refuge is being swiftly eroded by those in power, it still exists. It is the only defence we have left, and if we are to have even some semblance of freedom, we have to use it.