The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has advised the Minister of Public Security to direct the Inspector General of Police (IGP) that regulations produced in terms of the Police Ordinance would not be permissible if it reasonably impacts at the physical exercise of basic rights and freedom ensured in the Constitution.
HRCSL chairperson Justice Rohini Marasinghe stated this in a letter addressed to the Public Security Minister on the application of the Police Ordinance, No. 16 of 1865 to the civilian protests.
In the letter, she points out that 1 of the functions of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka is to make suggestions to the Government concerning measures which should really be taken to make sure that national laws and administrative practices are in accordance with international human rights and requirements, by virtue of section ten(d) of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka Act, No.21 of 1996.
In the pursuit of discharging this unction, the commission stated it wishes to apprise the Minister of the particulars of the application of the Police Ordinance, No.16 of 1865 as amended, in unique, section 77 – 80 of the similar, in order to make sure that the basic freedoms of speech and expression, and peaceful assembly of the citizens of Sri Lanka enshrined in Articles 14(1)(a) and 14(1)(b) of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka respectively are protected, topic to the restrictions contained in the Constitution itself.
The provisions that the Commission requires unique concern with are sections 77(two) and (three) of the Police Ordinance, No.16 of 1865, as amended by Act No.41 of 1984
Section 77(three) of the Police Ordinance, No.16 of 1865, as amended by Act No.41 of 1984, states that a police officer not under the grade of Assistant Superintendent may possibly prohibit a public procession or topic it to situations if he considers it expedient to do so in the ‘interests of the preservation of public order.’
The Commission emphasizes that the energy conferred by section 77(three) of the Police Ordinance, No.16 of 1865, as amended by Act No.41 of 1984, is strictly topic to the Constitution and should really only be exercised accordingly.
The Commission says it is of the opinion that the Police Ordinance, No.16 of 1865, in unique section 77 of the Police Ordinance, No. 16 of 1865 as amended by Act No.four 1 of 1984, has been incorrectly interpreted and applied in the current previous ultra vires the Constitution to suppress the basic freedoms of speech and expression. Peaceful assembly of civilian protesters enshrined in Article 14(1)(a) and (b) of the Constitution, respectively.
Besides the threat to basic freedoms assured by the Constitution, this state of affairs primarily issues the Commission due to the fact, as expressed by Fernando J. in the Jona Ghosha case, “stifling the peaceful expression of legitimate dissent today, can only result, inexorably, in the catastrophic explosion of violence some other day……”, the letter stated.
Therefore, the Commission advised the Minister to direct the IGP that regulations produced in terms of the Police Ordinance would not be permissible if it reasonably impacts the physical exercise of basic rights and freedom enshrined in the Constitution, particularly in relation to Article 14(1) (a) and (b).