Responding to the recent arrests and use of unlawful force by Sri Lankan authorities against protestors gathered outside President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence to agitate against the economic crisis in the country, Amnesty International’s South Asia Regional Director, Yamini Mishra, said:
“The Sri Lankan authorities must not use unnecessary or excessive force to disperse protesters who are suffering the consequences of an economic crisis that is spiralling out of control. Even in instances where protests turn violent, law enforcement officers must only use force where absolutely necessary and it must be strictly proportionate to the situation. The state must refrain from using force to create fear and stifle dissent.
“According to sources, 54 individuals, including journalists covering the incident, have been arrested, and dozens more injured. Many of them have been assaulted and subjected to torture or other ill treatment in police custody. The protestors also complained that police had recorded their statements without giving them access to lawyers.”
“Sri Lankan authorities must refrain from arresting people for exercising their right to peaceful protest and follow due process safeguards such as prompt access to legal counsel. We are very concerned by the human rights violations currently taking place in Sri Lanka as the authorities are using unlawful force and restrictions on movement in an attempt to quell dissent.”