Colombo Telegraph

BASL Pleads For Time On Sirisena Giving Police Powers To Armed Forces

Although the Bar Association of Sri Lanka had criticized the previous regime’s draconian regulations imposed under section 12 of the Public Security Ordinances that transferred Police powers to the armed forces, when the new regime does the same, the BASL says they need time to take up the issue.

Upul Jayasuriya

When asked for the BASL’s opinion on the presidential order issued by President Maithripala Sirisena on 2 February 2015 under section 12 of the Public Security Ordinance vesting police powers in the military, the president of the Bar Association, Upul Jayasuriya said; “I believe as a matter of routine this same order would have been extended. The government is barely 3 weeks old. Give us a little space we will take it up.”

On July 14, 2014, issuing a statement under the title “Sri Lanka Transforming Into A ‘Crypto Military And Authoritarian State” the BASL said; The BASL Executive Committee meeting has gone on to say the situation has been further deteriorated due to a regulation imposed under section 12 of the Public Security Ordinances that transferred Police powers to the Army, Navy and Air Forces, covering the entire country.”

As Colombo Telegraph reported yesterday, the new President Maithripala Sirisena has also issued the same order calling out the armed forces to exercise police powers under the pretext of public security.

Colombo Telegraph Posed following questions to the president of the Bar Association, Upul Jayasuriya;

1. Is it correct that, in July 2014, the BASL released a statement condemning presidential orders issued under section 12 of the Public Security Ordinance vesting police powers in the military?
http://basl.lk/index.php/services/archives/39-editor-s-choice-blocks/139-sri-lanka-transforming-into-a-crypto-military-and-authoritarian-state-says-basl

2. The July 2014 statement published on the BASL website described such gazetted presidential orders as ‘illegal, unjustified and ultra vires’. What was the reason for stating so?

3. In the statement published in July 2014, the BASL also stated that these gazetted orders were opposed by the BASL from its inception having foreseen the ‘danger faced by the people’. Is this still the position of the BASL?

4. What is your opinion on the presidential order issued by President Maithripala Sirisena on 2 February 2015 under section 12 of the Public Security Ordinance vesting police powers in the military?

5. Is the BASL taking steps to condemn the new order dated 2 February 2015? If not why?

On February 3rd a fundamental rights application has been filed by Dudeesha Duminda Nagamuwa, the candidate nominated by the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) for the January 8, 2015 presidential election, asking the Supreme Court to give relief for the violation of the fundamental rights of citizens of Sri Lanka by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa by abusing his powers and unnecessarily deploying the army in all 25 districts at election time, under the same section of the Public Security Ordinance.

Critics say this is against the hope that we would return to civilian administration. This means he is of the opinion that circumstances endangering public security have arisen in all 25 districts, and that the police are inadequate to deal with that situation.”

Meanwhile Colombo media reported, senior lawyer and President of the Bar Association, Upul Jayasuriya, has been appointed as the Chairman of Board of Investments (BOI) of Sri Lanka. “According to sources, Jayasuriya has been appointed to the post by President Maithripala Sirisena and he will be replacing Dr. Lakshman Jayaweera.” Colombo media further said.

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