Amnesty International says it is worrying that even after months of widespread protests in the country, Sri Lanka Police need to be constantly reminded of their duty to facilitate the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and exercise restraint in the use of force while policing assemblies.
The international rights organization’s Regional Researcher for the Right to Protest, Harindrini Corea made this remark responding to the reports of the death of a protestor who was hospitalized after the police fired tear gas and used water cannons in Colombo on Sunday (Feb 26) to disperse a group of demonstrators of the National People’s Power (NPP) demanding elections.
The deceased was identified as a Local Government election candidate of the NPP who was vying for the Nivithigala Pradeshiya Sabha. The 61-year-old was admitted to the ICU of the National Hospital in Colombo after sustaining an eye injury during the protest.
Speaking further in this regard, Corea noted that less lethal weapons that have indiscriminate effects and a high potential for harm must not be used where there is no widespread violence against persons during a peaceful assembly, adding that videos from Sunday show that the protesters were in a confined space without the possibility for dispersal or escape and yet the police used water cannons and tear gas in violation of international human rights law and standards on the use of force.
Corea went on to call for prompt independent and impartial investigations into all allegations of human rights violations, including the deaths reported in the context of the protests, so that all those found responsible are brought to justice in fair trials.