23 June, 2024


Sri Lankan Authorities Must Refrain From Use Of Military To Police Protests: Amnesty International

The Sri Lankan authorities must not impose a blanket order authorising use of force during the state of emergency that has been announced and refrain from use of the armed forces to police people’s protest said Amnesty International today following a new order empowering armed forces to maintain law and order in Colombo.

“The recent escalation of the authorities’ response to protests by calling in the armed forces, firing at protestors and excessive use of tear gas which resulted in the death of one person yesterday is deeply worrying,” said Yamini Mishra, Amnesty International’s South Asia Regional Director.

On the morning of 13 July 2022, thousands of protestors started making their way towards the Prime Minister’s office and the Parliament in Colombo. After an angry face-off, protesters breached the gates and took over the Prime Minister’s office. Amnesty International staff present at the protest location confirmed that law enforcement officers fired volleys of teargas against people, including children and journalists some of whom were seen escaping the plumes while coughing and sputtering. Dozens of protesters were injured, and one was reported dead. At Galle Face, helicopters flew low overhead, where a rolling peaceful protest site had been established three months ago in the prolonged agitation over the economic crisis in the country. At another protest near the Parliament later the same day, more than 80 people were reported to be injured and admitted to hospital.

At 3pm the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered a televised address in which he said he had ordered the military to “do whatever is necessary to restore order”. On 14 July 2022, a press release was issued by the army announcing a warning that they will use force to restore law and order in the country.

Any blanket order authorising use of force by armed forces is problematic even during times of emergency. The armed forces should not be involved in the policing of public assemblies, since they are trained to fight against enemies and not to protect and control civilians.

Amnesty calls upon law enforcement agencies to act with restraint to avoid further serious injury and loss of life. They may only use the minimum level of force necessary force to bring a situation under control where doing so is strictly necessary and proportionate. Even in instances where some parts of a protests turn violent, law enforcement must assess the situation on a case-by-case basis with use of force only where absolutely necessary and only against those engaged in violence. It must be strictly proportionate to the situation faced by law enforcement, which means authorities must not cause more harm than they seek to avert.

“At a time when the country is facing a dire economic crisis and protests are growing in scale, authorities must make comprehensive efforts to de-escalate the situation and focus resources on ensuring people can access essential goods and services, in line with international human rights law and standards,” said Yamini Mishra.

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Latest comments

  • 3

    What must be understood clearly that in the midst of a peaceful protest there is a hidden arm operating promoting violence and mayhem. If Ranil W says that there is “Facism” about the place then it can no longer be peaceful. The best example of peaceful protests were by Mahatma Gandhi. Our fellows even drive a baco machine to break barriers. Amnesty can cry. We are suffering. Now Herr Gottler has gone and it is understood that he has submitted his resignation through the Sri Lankan High Commission in Singapore. Therefore the need for “Gotagohome” is concluded. Now don’t drag another character and tell him / her to go home as well. With all that we don’t get our fuel, Electricity and Gas.

  • 6

    AI is right that as protests grow, there is a need to de-escalate the situations and that armed forces are trained to fight enemies. The executive president used the forces for his personal agendas, which created more issues. This Executive President and Dictatorship must be abolished.

    • 3

      davidthegood: You say “This Executive President and Dictatorship must be abolished.” What about the “Executive Prime Minister and the Dictatorship”, particularly from 1972 to 1977? What is required is no one must be the absolute boss. This country is not the private property of anybody. Over the years we vote a set of fellows to run the country on our behalf and it was like giving a blank check for them to enjoy and earn for seven generations. THAT IS WHAT MUST BE STOPPED FOR GOOD.

      • 1

        Good Sence,
        One behind the other – they have to abolish the current executive presidency. Many of our people would stay bashing at our past….. why not react today… if we genuinely expect us to move forward ??????
        Afterthat a constitution by placing PARLIAMENT above should be introduced. Not anyone with some knowledge would stand against it. I wonder why LAWMAKERs become paralized after getting elected into the parliament. I think people that are not empowered by ARAGALAYA youth should not allow any future parliamentarians to stay mum not having done their due… which is to be vociferous on peoples long standing issues again and again.
        EU parlaimentarians though not from one single country, but they always let to build consensus on common goals.
        But calling us to be CIVILIZEd, however not to allow even 5% of people s needs be addressed by the end of any parliamentary terms sofar ?

        So then for what purpose we should be blessed with expensive parliamentary sessions ?

  • 2

    The critical situation that has overtaken Sri Lanka comes but rarely and it called for circumspect handling. All those engaged in untying the knot sought to keep violence at bay till 9th May. From 9th July too, restraint was the hallmark. The Police were cautious in calling for military assistance and the latter too did not display any passion for a violent quelling.
    The contrast will be appreciated when the spells of bloodshed are recollected from 1956, 1958, 1971, 1977, 1983, 1987 and 1989 to 2009.
    What emerged in 2022 was a challenge for resurgence in a peaceable atmosphere. It is heartening to note AI’s advice which will go well with powerful segments of the state charged with restoring calm and repose. The youth seem committed to least violence unless driven otherwise.

  • 2

    US-backed soft military dictators and puppet acting President Bondscam Ranil Wickramasinghe (ha, ha, haa!) must go! RW is holding the country to Ransom now that US citizen Goat Rajapakse is gone to a US base in Singapore, Saudi or UAE!
    Why does not Amnesty say that the US backed military dictator of SL must go??! The only reason that RW hangs on despite his house being torched and being universally hated and having lost the last election is because he is America’s Manchurian Candidate to deliver Lanka into IMF clutches for asset stripping after the Staged Default!

    • 2

      The US citizen Gota and US puppet Ranil show is the other side of the Aragalaya Coin – they are all backed by and played by Uncle Sam!

      Why don’t the Aragalaya protest at the US embassy?! US citizen Basil who staged the default and Sovereign bond debt trap with Bondscam Ranil has fled now to the US and needs to be arrested.
      But the Aragalaya wont protest at the US embassy and some even support the IMF which is absurd since I have never heard of protestors anywhere in the world supporting the IMF!
      This shows that the Aragalaya is substantially controlled and gamed via social media by the CIA.. Otherwise they would have protested long ago at the American hands and interests Staging the Lankan crisis!

  • 2

    “The armed forces should not be involved in the policing of public assemblies, since they are trained to fight against enemies and not to protect and control civilians.”
    When they fight against the enemy, these dumbos say they commit war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    • 4

      EE take it easy… As like you been trained to say only few things irrespective of the subject matter under discussion and you know what that it is … Why worry now? Keep doing what you good at it :)

  • 2

    Who the hell is Amnesty International to dictate terms to Sri Lanka and prevent the Sri Lanka government from exercising powers vested in the Constitution?

    • 5

      Who the hell you are to order murdering your brothers and sisters who are in the streets dying on hungry for food?

  • 5

    Ranil called the protesters fascists. What is fascism in simple terms?
    : a political system headed by a dictator in which the government controls business and labor and opposition is not permitted.( from the internet). Sounds more like where he is heading to.

    And the armed forces are thete to retain law and order and save lives, he says.  The military will tear gas, water cannon, baton, and shoot at protesters exacerbating any violence 100-times more.

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