Sri Lanka has created a new ministry to control its police force folowing international criticism of the department being supervised by the powerful Defence Ministry. The police department will now be under the new Law and Order Ministry, officials said here today. A government gazette notification dated August 16 places the Police Department under the new ministry. President Mahinda Rajapaksa would have the control of the ministry, they said. "His Excellency the President has issued the gazette notification," said Wijayananda Herath, Rajapaksa's spokesman. Maj Gen (retd) Nanda Mallawarachchy has been named the top official of the new ministry.
He was until recently Sri Lanka's Ambassador to Indonesia. Sri Lanka in the recent past came under international criticism for the police being put under the Defence Ministry. Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission - Sri Lanka's own reconciliation commission - had also urged the government to exclude the police from the Defence Ministry's control. The move comes ahead of next week's visit to the country by UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay. Pillay's visit comes sequel to two UNHRC resolution moved by the US and backed by India calling for greater human rights accountability and steps for reconciliation from Colombo.