Lawyers’ Forum for the People Convenor Attorney Senaka Perera has filed a Fundamental Rights (FR) petition at the Supreme Court (SC) on 5th April , stating that Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chandana D. Wickramaratne has violated the fundamental rights of protestors with the use of spiked barricades to prevent protests.

The petition  states:

Since the Police are required to use minimum force to disperse public protests, it is unclear as to which provisions were used under the Police Ordinance to employ “lethal barricades”.

Hidden spiked barriers were used on 24 April when the Inter-University Students’ Federation marched from Colombo Fort to “GotaGoGama” at Galle Face Green.

The use of these barricades violate Articles 11 (the right to freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment, or punishment), 12(1) (the right to equality before the law and equal protection of the law), 14(1)(a) (the right to freedom of speech and expression including publication), and 14(1)(b) (the right to freedom of peaceful assembly) of the Constitution.

Bringing such barricades for civil protests shows the clear intention of torture where protestors are unarmed civilians, and that peaceful public demonstrations should not be suppressed by brutal and excessive force, where the result will be torture, cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment, or punishment at the hands of state officials.

Thus, the petitioner has called for the SC to declare that fundamental rights were violated and for the court to call for a report from the IGP about the use of such barricades.

(With inputs from The Morning)

The petition in full: 

On this 05 th day of May 2022


The Petition of the Petitioner above named appearing by Attorney-at-Law Prabhoda Rathnayake, states as follows:
Application No: SC/ FR/

1. The Petitioner states that he is an Attorney-at-Law and a citizen of Sri Lanka and 53 years of age, a member of the Bar Association Sri Lanka, and a member of a Lawyers group called “Lawyers Forum For The People”.
(In proof of the same, a copy of the National Identity Card of the Petitioner is attached herewith marked as “P-1”, and Bar Association Identity card is attached herewith marked as “P-1A”, pleaded as part and parcel to this application.)

2. The 1st Respondent is the Inspector General of Police
3. The 2nd Respondent is the Honorable Attorney General.

Background Facts:
4. Petitioner states that Petitioner is a sympathizer of the protest taking place at the Galle face area and in front of the Presidential Secretariat.
5. Petitioner states that on request he and a few other lawyers engaged with the protestors and support them whenever they undergo legal needs about the protest as well as he believes that As a Citizen it’s his constitutional Right to engage with protest as it guaranteed by the Article 14 (1) (a) and (b) on Freedom of expression and freedom of Assembly.
6. Petitioner states that with many other lawyers they also had a frequent presence at the protest site, where young persons, students, and people of all walks of life engaged to protest towards ongoing economic hardships and against the government and the protestors baptized the protesting area as “Gota Go Gama”, literally the protestors wanted the President and the Government to step down.
7. Petitioner states that he and other groups of lawyers engaged with the said “Gota Go Gama” protestors and there were few other lawyers collectives even engaged with and continue to engage by providing legal aid to those who visit the premises.
8. Petitioner states that even Law students are having their tent with legal awareness.
9. Petitioner states that various Civil Society groups, and trade Unions Students groups have their own space to educate the public on why the president and the Government should step down. These protestors include young, old, children, women, and the disabled too.
10. Petitioner states that the protesting area gains hundreds of thousand people every night and they are involved in various activities and chanting slogans against the President and the government and their demand is that President must step down with the government.
11. Petitioner states that on 24th of April Inter-University Student Federation organized a protest march from Pettah to the so-called “Gota Go Gama” protesting area.
12. Petitioner further states that they reliably learned that there can be barricades and roadblocks that prevent them enter into the protesting area and therefore he and a few other lawyers too gathered at the protesting area where people sought his legal opinion.
13. The Petitioner states that when they entered the area, they found that the Central bank end of Galle’s face and the Hilton Hotel entrance to Galle’s face was blocked by permanent
barricades, Iron fences, and a new type of barricades where they have not seen before.
14. The Petitioner states that when they come closer to the said barricades, they found it was unusual barricades and those barricades carried sharp Iron spikes.
15. The Petitioner states that all the said sharped Iron spikes were fixed to the moveable barricades.
16. Petitioner further states that all those sharp iron spikes have sharp spikes which are around 3 inches long and more than enough to cause the death of a person.
17. Petitioner further states that those sharp iron spikes fixed for moveable barricades were brought to the area by the Sri Lanka police where 1st Respondent is the commanding chief.
18. Petitioner further states that the 1st Respondent is the final authority for such brutal inhuman and degrading order.
19. Petitioner states that he observed that all the barricades were covered with thick polythene sheets that nobody can see unless come closer.
20. Petitioner states that the 1st Respondent had ordered to bring those barricades with Sharp Iron spikes with the clear knowledge that if someone hit or falls on such barricades can cause death or serious injuries.
(In proof of the same, photos of such barricades with sharp iron spikes are attached herewith marked as “P-2(a)” to “P-2(d)” respectively, are pleaded as part and parcel to this
21. Petitioner states that he went to the areas where barricades were fixed and he found police officials were behind those and protected those and he inspect the said barricades and found that those were lethal and dangerous and informed the police personnel to remove those but police didn’t listen to him.
22. Petitioner states that he found that these barricades were covered purposely as it’s not visible for the protestors to come from a forward direction and can be put forward as a weapon.
23. Petitioner further states that such a Sharp iron spike can hit an Eye of student protestors or any other protestors in the area or go inside of a head of a protestor or go inside of the upper or Lowe body of a protestor or even it might cause the life of the police constable that brought to use those barricades.
24. The petitioner state that in the recent protest there were instances where police and students pull the barricades and if this unusual lethal barricade falls on either side then damage to human beings will be huge irrespective of police or student.
25. Petitioner states that he has seen how student protestors remove barricades where in many instances Police, as well as the student, got injuries but those were the barricades without sharp iron spikes.
26. Petitioner states that the said lethal barricades can be thrown at the protestors where easily few deaths can occur.
27. Petitioner further states that he was in the protest area and he was part of the Protest and therefore he might be easy prey of a lethal weapon used by the police.
28. Petitioner states that therefore he had an imminent threat for life, Torture and purposeful degrading treatment, and imminent threat of Torture by the police under the direct orders of the 1st Respondent.
29. Petitioner states that the 1st Respondent intentionally create a fear, imminent threat of torture and imminent threat for life, imminent threat of unequal treatment before law where no protestors were treated with such dangerous barricades
30. Petitioner states that bringing such barricades for civil protest shows the clear intention of Torture where the protestors were civilians, no armed protestors, and the peaceful public
demonstration shouldn’t be suppressed by brutal and excessive force where the result will be torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the hands of the
state officials.
31. Petitioner however states that the duty and obligation of 1 st Respondent are to protect the life of the public as a public officer and paid by the public by their tax money.
32. Petitioner further states that the 1st Respondent had intentionally brought those barricades to harm the protestors where thousands of lives including the petitioner may have gotten injured.
33. The petitioner states that he has never seen similar lethal barricades used in the protest and therefore he believes that these barricades were specially made under the directions of the 1st Respondent to harm the students and other protestors and where these lethal barricades were manufactured and where these barricades were manufactured according to the international and Sri Lankan police standards.
34. The Petitioner states that this is contrary to the minimum force that police is supposed to maintain when it comes to dispersing public protest or public rally and it’s unclear under which section of the police ordinance these lethal barricades were brought.
35. Petitioner states that he had an imminent threat of torture and cruel, inhuman, or
degrading treatment or punishment by the police under direct orders of the 1st Respondent
36. Petitioner states that he strongly believes if the students used the route where barricades were placed, he and students and young people will be physically harmed and tortured.

Violation of Fundamental Rights under the Constitutional Provision
37. Petitionerstatesthat the above-mentioned circumstances give rise to a reasonable apprehension regarding an imminent infringement of the petitioner’s right to freedom from torture by Article 11, right to equality by Article 12(1), and 14 (1) (a) and (b) and of the Constitution of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
38. Petitioner states that considering the above facts stipulate in this application, there is an infringement or imminent infringement by the 1st Respondent under Article 11, 12(1), 14 (1) a and (b) of the Constitution.
39. Petitioner states that he has not invoked the jurisdiction of Your Lordships’ Court in this regard previously.
WHEREFORE the Petitioner humbly prays to Your Lordships to,
(a) Grant leave to proceed.
(b) Declare that the action of the 1st Respondent has violated the Petitioners Fundamental
Rights guaranteed under the Articles of 11, 12(1), 14(1) a and b
(c) Order the Registrar of the Supreme Court to call a report from the Inspector General of
Police on using barricades unsuitable and harmful to public and police standards that they
use to disperse and prevent the public from entering certain areas.
(d) Grant an Interim relief against the 1st Respondent to refrain from using the above-described lethal barricades or any similar harmful and inhuman barricades to prevent the public from entering premises and order the 1st Respondent to follow standards that are not harmful.
(e) Grant Rupees Rs. 25,000,000.00/= as compensation for the 1st Respondent.
(f) Grant such other and further relief as to Your Lordships’ Court shall deem fit.

Attorney-at-Law for the Petitioner