Bar Association calls for impartial investigation into Weliweriya incident

Monday, 5 August 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka, while condemning the attack on protesters at Weliweriya, has called on the Government to appoint an impartial and independent commission comprising respected persons to hold an inquiry into the incident. Issuing a statement to the media, the BASL said its standing committee on Rule of Law at an emergency meeting condemned the brutal attack on the protesters and resolved to provide assistance to the victims. The BASL said they condemned the attack on protesters at Weliweriya since it is the democratic right of the people to dissent and protest, individually and collectively within the law. “It is our view that this action which is manifestly a planned action is motivated by the desire to suppress the legitimate right to dissent and protest, as we see this action as the culmination of a series of attacks by the police on students, trade unions and even lawyers,” the organisation said. The lawyers’ association said they do not see any valid reason to call the Army for assistance. The association further noted that there is a strong ground to show that the normal procedure adopted to disperse a crowd was not followed and it was clearly seen that persons who were running away were pursued and attacked by entering private premises and places of worship. “It is unlikely that an extraordinary action such as calling the Army to disperse a protesting crowed would have been taken without orders from the highest level.” The BASL called upon the Government to appoint an impartial and independent commission consisting of respected persons with the highest integrity to hold an inquiry and report immediately of the many aspects of the incident. According to BASL, the inquiry should be open and transparent and the public should be allowed to testify before the commission. The lawyers’ fraternity said it would offer its professional services to the victims of this brutal assault to seek relief before such a commission or other means by recourse to law. “We are of the strong view that civil society groups should take a united stand to condemn this action and to take further steps to see that the right to dissent and protest is respected in our country,” the association said.