Justice ‘’Youkthiya’’ in Action
Posted on January 8th, 2024

Sarath Wijesinghe President’s Counsel (LLM International Law (UCL)), former Ambassador to UAE and Israel, President of the Lanka Ambassador’s Forum – United Kingdom, Former Chairman of The Consumer Affairs Authority, Solicitor in England and Wales.

It is a commendable concept and a remarkable operation against drugs, the underworld, and criminal activities which appear to be undermining and underestimating the rule of law and the peace of the country, bringing the peaceful life of the peace-loving citizens to its knees. The duration of its effectiveness remains uncertain, and the movement’s ability to withstand opposition from various quarters, where support is minimal and encouragement is lacking, raises concerns.

The rule of Law has been disregarded, paving the way for anarchy fueled by indifference, inefficiency, bribery, and corruption. Justice, which entails treating individuals impartially and equally, and preventing illegal and immoral acts by anti-social elements, seems to have been compromised. The Youkthiya’s campaign, having collected 850 million rupees and seized properties worth billions from drug dealers, has questioned 20,000 individuals suspected of criminal and drug-related activities. Investigations are ongoing, focusing on items such as Hush Hush, Pills, Cannabis, as well as significant amounts of currency and properties whose ownership and sources of income remain elusive.

The collaboration between drug dealers, the underworld, and criminals exacerbates the challenges, with the primary victims often being the youth. Unfortunately, there is a lack of proper vision or direction to curb, if not completely eradicate, this pressing issue. Identifying the responsible parties and determining where to initiate corrective measures are crucial concerns, leaving the average citizen in disarray with no apparent solution.
Drug dealers thrive due to a strong network, locally and internationally, supported by drug lords and an affluent drug mafia. The organized nature of their operations, involving well-paid trained groups infiltrating schools, workplaces, and villages across the country, makes it difficult to pinpoint the main leaders, who likely enjoy political patronage. The elusive nature of these leaders remains a significant obstacle.
It is imperative that social media, civil society, and citizens unite in the fight for peace and the rule of law, which are rapidly eroding due to the lack of participation and intervention from these groups. Safety is compromised everywhere – at home, on the roads, and in the workplace – creating a nationwide predicament. The urgency of finding a solution is heightened by the fear of being mugged or having belongings stolen in broad daylight by organized thieves, drug peddlers, and addicts.
While the initiation and motivation behind the operation are not our concern, as long as it addresses a long-felt need, it is crucial to support and guide the efforts of the line minister and the head of the police department. Public support is essential, as active participation can contribute significantly to the success of the operation.
According to recent statistics, there are approximately 45,000 regular drug users, while the number of other users might be around 600,000. This alarming situation has rapidly encroached upon our neighborhoods, garnering media headlines and plunging citizens into agony. The United States leads globally in drug misuse, encompassing manufacturing as a lucrative business. Drug use is subsequently prevalent in countries plagued by drug addiction, crime, and connections to the underworld.
Despite extensive anti-drug campaigns, it is estimated that there are approximately 2.5 billion drug addicts worldwide, with a staggering 5.75% increase, even in
countries with stringent rules and severe punishments such as the Philippines and Sri Lanka. The peril of drugs has significantly impacted the youth and students, who are vulnerable targets for ruthless drug peddlers. Shockingly, 42% of girls and 43% of boys approached by drug peddlers have tried drugs, and addicted youth are often employed as agents to recruit new victims.
Disturbing incidents, like those involving an 11-year-old student, are widely circulated on social media, highlighting the ease with which the young are ensnared in the drug trade under the false pretense of enhancing memory and enjoyment. The news of Youkthiya’s raids, with recoveries amounting to billions, underscores the magnitude of the issue. It seems that drug lords are capitalizing on the breakdown of law and order, facilitated by bribery, corruption, and inefficiency within the system. Despite large sums being readily available, the security forces, influenced by political patronage, have struggled to make a breakthrough.
Drug crimes and the underworld are intricately connected, with the same entities engaging in various illegal projects. The underworld wields significant wealth and political power, often with suggestions that politicians are either involved or providing protection to the culprits. While Youkthiya remains active, operations continue with the community’s direct approval, as parents of young victims bear the brunt. The group is subjected to thefts, robberies, and the destruction of public and private property during daylight, leading to a burden on public funds and an increase in the cost of living.
Despite ongoing justice operations, the underworld persists, and drug dealers operate alongside other illegal trades at a reduced pace. The intensified pressure through arrests, raids, and anti-drug efforts faces resistance from various quarters. Notable incidents, such as the alleged unauthorized construction belonging to a Dubai-based drug lord being destroyed in Dehiwala, gain media attention. The anticipated outcome is the curtailment or eradication of the drug and underworld menace, seen as a curse to society. We hope for the continued success of the operation, with leaders and public officers facing risks, dedication, and danger, all supported by average citizens living in fear but with high hopes for success.

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