The protesters, arrested for violating quarantine regulations, were sent for quarantine not by the police but based on instructions of the Public Health Inspectors (PHIs), Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekara said today.
He told parliament that the protesters who were arrested in Battaramulla on Thursday (08) were sent to a quarantine centre in Mulathivu on the advice of the PHI.
"It is the PHI who decides whether to send them for a quarantine centre or direct them for home quarantine. The protesters who were arrested in Battaramulla on Thursday were sent to a quarantine centre in Mulathivu on the advice of the PHI," he said.
Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, who refused the Minister's claims, said that there was no health official or a PHI either inside the Magistrate's Court or outside the Court.
"They were sent for quarantine in the police bus in which they were brought to the court even without a PCR test or an Antigen Test. Police have taken over the duties of PHIs and Health DG. There is no law in this country," he charged.
He said it was a violation of human rights and Quarantine Ordinance and Quarantine regulations issued by the Health Services Director General to forcibly send the arrested protesters for quarantine.
The Opposition Leader said they were going to file several Human Rights petitions over this matter and urged the Government to rectify the mistake they have made.
Minister Weerasekara said police would continue to arrest anyone who was protesting in violation of quarantine regulations issued by the Health Services Director General, irrespective of their status and send them for quarantine.
He said that the police would not allow anyone to break the law and stressed that the protests and meetings have been banned by the Health Services Director General so as to prevent the spread of the Covid-19.
"It is not a decision taken by the politicians. The order has been made by the Health DG to the police chief based on powers vested on him under the quarantine ordinance. Police are only carrying out his directives," he said. (Ajith Siriwardana and Yohan Perera)