SL government to introduce new laws for protest control

SL government to introduce new laws for protest control

SAM Staff,

The Sri Lankan government has paid attention to bring in new laws pertaining to public order management, Law and Order and Southern Development Minister Sagala Ratnayaka said.

The minister said the government was looking into drafting a ‘Public Order Management Bill’ considering the inconveniences various protests on streets cause to the public.

The initiative comes in the wake of rising instances of protests blocking main roads in Colombo and other urban areas. Ratnayaka said the idea of allocating a separate space for public protests is also under consideration.

he said.“We respect the right of people to have peaceful demonstrations, but they have no right to violate others’ rights. Article 14 of the Constitution should be read with the Article 15 (7) which explains the restrictions on Fundamental Rights. Article 14 has assured the freedom of speech and expression and the freedom of peaceful assembly, but at the same time Article 15 (7) states those rights should be exercised respecting the rights and freedoms of others,” he said.

“Prior to January 8, 2015, these fundamental rights of the people had been largely contained. People were afraid to come to streets in fear of their lives. Now the situation has changed and we have ensured those rights of the citizens,” the minister said.

Ratnayaka pointed out that most protests do not end peacefully.

“Some protests have reasonable grounds, but some are politically motivated. Some stage street protests merely to get some publicity. At times the media too aggravate them. These protests lead to heavy traffic congestion, and sometimes even ambulances carrying patients in critical conditions cannot move. This is clearly a violation of their rights. Sometimes the MPs are obstructed from coming to Parliament due to protests at the Parliament roundabout. This is a violation of the Standing Orders,” he said.

The minister said special training is being given to the Police, adding that they have been familiarised with new equipment and methodologies to handle these situations.

The minister made these observations replying to an adjournment motion moved by UNP MP S.M.Marikkar in Parliament.