A group of senior legal practitioners have expressed concern over Police inaction in failing to stop the intimidation levelled against families of those disappeared during the war by a group of Rajapaksa supporters and extremist Buddhist monks, during a meeting that was held on Monday afternoon in Colombo.
Conveners of the Lawyers Collective – Lal Wijenayake, Chandrapala Kumarage and JC Weliamuna in a joint statement yesterday have noted that despite the large contingent of Police present at the scene including senior Police officers, steps were not taken to maintain peace by removing or arresting the criminal trespassers.
They in fact have accused the Police of appearing to support the mob attempts to disrupt the meeting as they had requested the organizers of the meeting to call off the gathering and for the families from the North to return home. The legal practitioners in their statement have also noted that the Police refused to give security to the participants of the meeting, when they had expressed their wish to continue while also allowing some of the riotous Buddhist monks to remain in the Church premises.
Furthermore, the statement notes that the well-organized manner of the intimidation and disruption of the meeting for the families of the disappeared have also been revealed by:
-A fax message sent by an unknown group to media institutions requesting media coverage for the event claiming it is to train those from the North and the East to give evidence to the war crimes tribunal
-Intimidating phone calls to at least one family
– Police visits to another venue which the families of the disappeared had planned to hold a meeting and stay overnight on August 4, where the Police officials who visited the premises had demanded information about its organizers and participants
“The Constitution of Sri Lanka guarantees amongst other fundamental rights the right to freedom of speech and expression; peaceful assembly and t of association which mandates the police to protect those rights. If any agent of State aids abets or orders state officials to disrupt or sabotage such rightful activity he violates the Constitution,” the Lawyers Collective has noted in their statement.
In their statement they have also stressed on the fact that these groups cannot operate without the protection of the Defence establishments.
“We urge law enforcement authorities, if they were to respect Rule of Law, to apprehend and prosecute those who were responsible for this intimidatory criminal actions depriving the peaceful citizens of their right to peaceful expression, assembly and association,” the statement reads further.