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Dispersing Galle Fort protest: Army and Police express regret to lawyers

12 Dec 2023 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

  • 11 lawyers file FR petitions challenging the legality of the army’s deployment and forceful dispersal

By Lakmal Sooriyagoda   

Sri Lanka Police and Army yesterday expressed their regret to the lawyers over an incident of dispersing a peaceful protest held at the ramparts of the Galle Fort on June 29, last year.   

Eleven lawyers had filed fundamental rights petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the legality of the deployment of Army personnel to forcefully disperse a peaceful protest held at the ramparts of the Galle Fort.    

The Deputy Solicitor General who appeared on behalf of the Attorney General informed the Court that the Police and Army personnel were expressing their regret over the incident.   

Taking into consideration the facts, Supreme Court three-judge-bench comprising Justices Preethi Padman Surasena, Yasantha Kodagoda and Achala Wengappuli decided to terminate case proceedings into the petitions.   
The Petitioners stated that this incident happened when the second day of the first test match was being played between Sri Lankan and Australian Cricket teams at the Galle International Cricket Stadium.   

Attorneys-at-law Nalani Manatunga, Chandana Kodakandage, Gopika Lokuge, Thusitha Madusanka, Samith Thushara Gallage, Eranga Ruwan Hemantha, Jothirathna Arachchi, Kumudu Nanayakkara, Chandranath Narangoda, Renuka Shanthimala and Kusumawathi Pahala Gamage filed these petitions naming filed this petition naming Minister of Public Security, IGP, Army Commander, Attorney General and several others as respondents.   
The Petitioners state that they decided with other lawyers as a group to go to the Ramparts to watch the cricket match and to cheer and support the Sri Lankan team, and also from there to voice their protests against the conduct of the former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Government. Accordingly, the Petitioners have reached the ramparts of the Galle Fort along with a group of other lawyers with the National Flags in their hands and tried to enter the ramparts of the Galle Fort from the Public Entrance near the Clock Tower in Galle Fort.   
They further state that the arrival of military personnel armed with firearms at the ramparts of the Galle Fort whilst police officers were present, and without any authority whatsoever is grossly illegal and a danger to the life of the Petitioners, other protestors and also to the lives of the public who visited the ramparts of the Galle Fort.