BASL urges IGP not to arrest and detain persons engaged in peaceful protests


Expressing its grave concern at the arrests and detention of protestors by the Sri Lanka Police apparently for violating Health Regulations relating to COVID-19, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has urged Inspector General of Police to refrain from arresting and detaining persons who are exercising their peaceful right to protest.

In a letter addressed to IGP Chandana Wickremaratne and Director General of Health Services Asela Gunawardene, the BASL observed that quarantine is a health precaution and should not be used as a punishment or mode of detention. The BASL states that these arrests have occurred after a Press Release by the Police Media Division bearing Reference No. PMD/PR/845/21 dated 06-07-2021 which purports to convey an extract from a letter bearing Reference No. DDG(PHS)1/DO2/7/13/2017/20 sent by the Director-General of Health Services to the Police. The date on which the said letter of the Director-General of Health Services had been issued has not been disclosed.

'Public protests straddle three important Fundamental Rights in the Constitution namely the Freedom of Speech and Expression, the Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and the Freedom of Association guaranteed by Articles 14(1)(a), (b) and (c) of the Constitution. Public protests also strengthen the Freedom of Thought which is entrenched as a Fundamental Right by Article 10 of the Constitution. The rights under Article 14(1) may be restricted by law in the interests of public health, however, such restriction must be done by law; must have a nexus to the objective sought to be achieved and must be reasonable', the BASL Letter said.

The letter issued under the signatures of BASL President saliya Pieris and its Secretary Rajeev Amarasuriya said the health guidelines issued by the Director-General of Health Services have not listed public protests or outdoor meetings as prohibited activities.

Meanwhile, the BASL said it is of the view that any organized protests should be carried out in a manner that does not pose a risk to public health and that persons who intend to participate in protests or marches or similar exercises must ensure that they conform to health guidelines in their interest and the interests of the general public.

The BASL further observed that the acts of forced detention in quarantine centres are arbitrary and unlawful, are an affront to the judiciary that have released the said persons on bail.

The BASL calls upon the Director-General of Health Services not to allow the Health Guidelines to be abused in a manner that has a chilling effect on the freedom to dissent.   #Tamil   #News   #Tamil News   #Tamil Daily News   #Website   #Tamil News Paper   #Tamil Nadu Newspaper  #Online   #Breaking   News Headlines    #Latest Tamil News   #India News    #World News   #Tamil Film   #Jaffna   #Kilinochchi  #Mannar  #Mullathivu  #Batticola  #Kandy  #Srilanka  #Colombo

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