Under the instructions of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) a special team has been deployed to probe the clash between protesters and Police in Rambukkana on 19 April, in the Kegalle District, Chairperson of the HRCSL Retd. Supreme Court Judge Rohini Marasinghe said yesterday (20).

A team comprising two HRCSL Directors and Deputy Directors, a legal officer and a Human Rights  official have already been deployed to Rambukkana to probe the incident of gunning down a protester and others being injured when trying to bring the situation under control, according to HRCSL.

“They are sent to probe as to who ordered the shooting and the background of the incident,” the HRCSL said.  

Also the HRCSL team will probe the circumstances under which the incident had taken place and will also gather reports from the people in the area, the Police officers as well as media personnel who were there reporting the protest. They will also probe the JMO report and the hospital staff who handled the injured.

Central Province SDIG, the DIG of the Central Province, SSP Kegalle and OIC of the Rumbukkana Police are summoned for further investigations to  HRCSL on 22 April, Marasinghe said.

Meanwhile, HRCSL’s Marasinghe had met American Ambassador, Julie Chung who tweeted that they had discussed the injustice of violence against unarmed protesters and need for a full, transparent investigation of the Rambukkana violence. Chung tweeted, “It’s the HRCSL’s work to protect the rights of all Sri Lankans, including peaceful protesters, has never been more important.”

The HRCSL Chief in another official statement also noted that the public have been facing immense problems due to the economic crisis and the Government should instantly focus on the crisis situation.

“As per the ICCPR Act and as a party to it, the Government of Sri Lanka is bound to ensure that its citizens are provided with basic necessities such as food and allow them to lead lives devoid of starvation and that it is one of the fundamental rights of people that has been accepted by all countries who are members of the UN.

The HRCSL has pointed out that this has been enshrined in the Constitution as well. The HRCSL has informed the Government that measures should be taken to provide essentials such as food, fuel, cooking gas and other amenities 24/7 to the masses without any interruption whatsoever.

Meanwhile, the Universal Human Rights Council expressed its concerns regarding the Police shooting at peaceful protesters in Rambukkana where one had died and many were injured and were receiving medical treatment.

They noted that as per the constitutional right of the people, the right to peaceful assembly and protest should not be tackled with heavy handed approach by any authority. It is against the democratic rights of the citizens of Sri Lanka to forcefully disperse arrest or injure any protesters.

Violence has no place in democracy and violence only promotes violence. Violence from Police or the protesters is not justifiable and not acceptable in any circumstance. Sri Lankan Law enforcement authorities should act sensitively to the genuine grievance of protesters and sensitively guide protesters to maintain civil order whilst allowing them to express their views and genuine concerns which are currently affecting them and their families.

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan