The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has requested the government not to extend the validity of gazette notification 1817/331, whereby the armed forces may be called out to maintain public order in all parts of the country.
“The said Gazette appears unnecessary, disproportionate and imprudent and could lead to great abuse as was evident from the serious incidents that transpired at Rathupaswala, Weliweriya in August this year”, it said.
The BASL said that it noted with grave concern the continuing operation of Gazette Notification No. 1817/31 dated 3/7/2013, and it appeared to be under this Gazette that the armed forces were deployed at Rathupaswala (Weliweriya) recently, where three deaths occurred, with several others sustaining injury.
“The said Gazette Notification No, 1817/31 has been made under Section 12(1) of the Public Security Ordinance which provides as follows:
“Where circumstances endangering the public security in any area have arisen or are imminent and the President is of the opinion that the police are inadequate to deal with such situation in that area, he may, by Order published in the Gazette, call out all or any of the members of all or any of the armed forces for the maintenance of public order in that area.”
The Association, however, said that it was imperative that the power be used (if at all) prudently, cautiously and sparingly. “In Sri Lanka today, over four years after the end of the conflict and the lapse of the Emergency Regulations, and at a time when Sri Lanka proudly proclaims the establishment of peace and the advent of prosperity and development, it was difficult to envisage that circumstances endangering public security had arisen or are imminent and that the Police cannot handle such circumstances.
“The said Gazette Notification 1817/31 thus appears unnecessary, disproportionate and imprudent and could lead to great abuse, as was evident from the serious incidents that transpired at Weliweriya. In the circumstances, the BASL calls upon the Government not to extend the validity of the said Gazette Notification 1817/31 which is a serious impediment to the rule of law and the democratic rights of the people of this country,” the BASL said.