Authorities in Sri Lanka must immediately rescind the emergency regulations and shooting orders that provide excessive powers to the police and military, and take immediate steps to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of peaceful protestors, Amnesty International said today.
The authorities must also refrain from using the state of emergency as a pretext to curb the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, including at the protest sites such as “Gotagogama” in the country.
Following the President’s proclamation of a State of Emergency on 6 May along with a country-wide curfew from 9-12 May, backdated emergency regulations were published overnight on 9 May. They give sweeping powers to the police and the armed forces to search and make arrests of “suspects” without due process safeguards. On 9 May, protesters peacefully demonstrating in front of the Presidential Secretariat since over a month were violently attacked by pro-government supporters after being allegedly incited to violence by top party leaders at Temple Trees, the Prime Minister’s official residence in Colombo. The police stood largely as bystanders to the violence, doing little to effectively protect the peaceful protesters and their protest site, despite having used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the protestors just days before on 6 May.