This is a country where no one but the law-abiding fears the law, which, to all intents and purposes, is an impotent lame ass. Inefficiency of the police is monumental and the judicial process is woefully tardy. The conviction rate stands at four per cent! So, little wonder that the law breakers are having a field day!
We reported the other day that a principal who had allegedly raped a schoolgirl in Embilipitiya in 2004 and forced her to undergo an abortion continued to be in the State service until recently. On Tuesday, the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Education Secretary responded to our report. He said that the suspect had been interdicted in February and served a charge sheet on May 7.
Why on earth did they take such a long time to interdict the suspect and initiate an inquiry? It took less than three years to finish the Eelam War IV!
If a minor employee in the public service gets caught in the act of taking a bribe, he is interdicted in no time. But, a principal who allegedly rapes a schoolgirl is allowed to carry on regardless for six long years!
The allegation at issue has yet to be proved and the suspect should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. He may or may not have committed that crime. But, he should have been probed immediately after the alleged crime came to light. Justice delayed is justice denied. The inordinate delay on the part of the Sabaragamuwa PC in initiating action against the suspect is atrocious and unforgivable, to say the least.
Where have the teachers` unions been all these years? They are known for their pugnacity which knows no bounds. They even do not hesitate to hold schoolchildren to ransom by boycotting examination duty and the assessment of answer scripts to win their demands. Why didn`t they take up the alleged incident and demand an immediate investigation to help him clear his name if he was innocent or to have him punished if he was guilty.
Worse, not even Minister of Justice Athauda Seneviratne seems to care a damn about the alleged rape of a schoolgirl in his own province. When The Island raised the issue at a media briefing yesterday, Minister Seneviratne blew a gasket.
Why the minister saw red we do not know. He curtly said that he did not want to field our question as the alleged incident was an isolated one. His skewed logic defies comprehension. Of what use is a Minister of Justice who conveniently turns a blind eye to an incident of rape and trots out such ridiculous excuses? Would he have reacted the same way if the victim had been someone near and dear to him?
If schools are to be made safe for our children, child abusers in the garb of teachers must be weeded out. But, going by the reprehensible manner in which the aforesaid incident is being handled by the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council and the Justice Minister`s unspeakable arrogance and nonchalance, the government does not seem to care for the safety of the country`s children. If it does, let it probe not only the incident at issue but also why the provincial authorities have been dragging their feet on the issue.