Phone monitoring: Police Commission takes case to CC

It was only last week that the Sunday Times reported on its front page that the head of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Senior DIG Ravi Seneviratne revealed how Police Chief Pujith Jayasundera wanted telephone records of senior officers.

The revelation came at a meeting the Police top brass — with the exclusion of the IGP — met members of the Police Commission. Mr Seneviratne said the Special Investigation Unit which functions under the Police Chief had given a list of names. Upon perusing, he had first found his phone number and, thereafter, a closer study had revealed all the mobile phone numbers belonged to senior Police officers.

Following the meeting, the Police Commission has said it would make representations to the Constitutional Council over several issues they have raised, particularly over the Police Chief. It has now come to light, that the IGP Jayasundera had sought to use a machine handed over to the Police by the Australian Federal Police. It extracts information held on mobile phones, including deleted e-mails and location data. One such machine has been assigned for use by the Terrorism Investigation Division.

That this piece of equipment and others were handed over to the Sri Lanka Police by their Australian counterparts was revealed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). The ABC has sought recourse to the Freedom of Information Act in Australia.An ABC report said that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) “was central to the Government’s attempts to deal with the influx of asylum seekers fleeing the civil war in Sri Lanka. In mid-2009 it struck a deal with Sri Lankan police to provide equipment and training to help Sri Lanka disrupt people-smuggling networks.

Excerpts of the ABC report: “Documents released to 7.30 (title of the ABC programme) under a Freedom of Information request, the last of a series dating back to 2011, detail what is being provided. Across five years the AFP have given the CID and other branches of the Sri Lankan police everything from furniture and office equipment to high-tech intelligence programmes. Among them is the Jade Investigator software program, which allows police to easily link photos, video, intelligence reports and other evidence together.

“Another program given to the CID was IBM’s i2 Analyst’s Notebook, a powerful tool to visualise networks of people being targeted by a police force. The AFP also handed over two machines that extract information held on mobile phones, including deleted emails, texts and location data.
“Former diplomat Bruce Haigh served as Australia’s Deputy High Commissioner in Sri Lanka in 1994. He told 7.30 the equipment could have been used to pursue the Sri Lankan government’s enemies.

“The AFP also built or refurbished at least four offices in CID’s headquarters in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo.”
Police Chief Jayasundera, meanwhile, was in Australia last week attending a conference of Police heads.

Courtesy – Sunday Times

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