HRW urges Sri Lankan President to ensure HR of protesters attacked by police

The NGO Human Right Watch (HRW) has urged this Friday the president of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, to guarantee the Human Rights of the demonstrators, after the Police dismantled this Friday the main anti-government protest camp in the city of Colombo, in an operation that resulted in at least a dozen people arrested and half a hundred injured.

“Only a day after taking office, President Wickremesinghe oversaw a brutal attack by security forces on peaceful protesters in the heart of Colombo,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Right Watch.

Ganguly has considered that this “action sends a dangerous message to the people of Sri Lanka that the new government intends to act through brute force rather than the rule of law.”

HRM has noted that the Sri Lankan president “must immediately order the security forces to cease all unlawful use of force against protesters, release all persons arbitrarily detained, and properly investigate and prosecute those responsible for abuses.”

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The NGO has also called on international partners — both foreign governments and multilateral agencies — to promote the defense of human rights so that it is possible to “address Sri Lanka’s economic crisis.”

In fact, HRW has reminded the Asian country that “protections against torture, excessive use of force and other fundamental rights must never be violated,” despite the fact that international law allows for the suspension of certain rights in emergency situations.

“Emergency powers can be used to detain people without going through the ordinary process of the courts and have been used repeatedly in the past to allow for human rights violations,” the NGO has denounced.

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“The urgent measures needed to address the economic needs of Sri Lankans require a government that respects fundamental rights (…) Sri Lanka’s international partners must send a message loud and clear that they cannot support an administration that tramples on the rights of its people,” Ganguly said.

The dismantling of the protest camp came less than 24 hours after Wickremesinghe was sworn into office in a ceremony held a day after his election by Parliament.

Security forces had warned that they would detain protesters under emergency laws if they confronted officers.

In a joint operation by the Army, Police and Sri Lanka Special Force, tents erected in front of the Presidential Secretariat were dismantled.

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