ECONOMYNEXT – Human rights watchdog Amnesty International called on the Sri Lankan government to immediately release 21 protesters arrested for blocking the entrances of the Presidential Secretariat and the Treasury Building.
Restrictions can only be placed ‘if necessary provided by the law’, the South Asian arm of Amnesty Internation said in a tweet.
“These repressive actions don’t meet Sri Lanka’s obligations under international human rights law. Restrictions can only be placed on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly where strictly necessary, proportionate and provided by law.
“Amnesty is concerned…They must be released and any pending charges against them must be dropped immediately,” it said.
Sri Lanka: @amnesty is concerned by the arrest of at least 21 peaceful protesters demonstrating in the vicinity of the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo today. They must be released and any pending charges against them must be dropped immediately.
— Amnesty International South Asia (@amnestysasia) June 20, 2022
Police said the arrests were made for blocking all the gates of the Presidential Secretariat and the Treasury building, obstructing the officials that worked at the building as well as those that were going for a crucial meeting with International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials that began Monday morning in Colombo.
Sri Lanka police arrests 21 anti-govt protestors as IMF talks begin
However, the rights watchdog said blocking of roads is part of legitimate demonstration.
“It is essential that the authorities guarantee the right to hold assemblies within sight and sound of the intended audience, which may include the legitimate blocking of roads, and refrain from arbitrary arrests of peaceful protesters.”
It noted that Sri Lankan authorities have repeatedly used force, intimidation and arbitrary arrests against peaceful assembly since the protests broke out in March 2022. (Colombo/Jun20/2022)