An Echelon Media Company
Tuesday February 27th, 2024

Sri Lanka’s virus curfew illegal: rights commission

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s nation-wide curfew to contain the coronavirus had been imposed illegally, the independent Human Rights Commission has said in a decision that could impact thousands of prosecutions.

The panel which has wide powers to investigate rights abuses said it received a large number of complaints of wrongful arrests during the 24-hour curfew period from March 20 to May 27.

Police had arrested 65,930 people for allegedly breaking the curfew and more than a third of them have already been prosecuted, police said adding that they have also seized 18,614 vehicles from curfew violators.

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka said the curfew had no legal basis although police used an 1897 quarantine law to restrict movement of people to prevent the spread of the virus.

The quarantine and disease control ordinance did “not confer wider enough authority to impose countrywide curfew as a precautionary measure,” the commission said.

It noted, however, that restricting of peoples’ movements was necessary to deal with COVID-19, but that it should be done lawfully and within Sri Lanka’s international obligations to uphold rule of law.

The Commission’s statement decision could have consequences for those already facing prosecution. It also contradicted a ruling by a magistrate in Gampaha who had previously upheld prosecutions of curfew violators.

The Commission also noted that notices of imposition of curfew had been issued by the President’s Media unit, but they were not available in the public domain.

“It is essential that there is transparency in the declaration of curfew and all other forms of restriction of movement. All declarations of curfew must be formally made and must be available in the public domain.

“Currently, the Presidential Media Division announces the imposition and withdrawal of curfew. Although we are made to understand that curfew is currently declared by the police purportedly under the Quarantine and Prevention of Disease Ordinance, the declarations are not available in the public domain,” the Commission said.

It said the curfew could be regularized by an order of the President under the Public Security Ordinance (PSO).

“This is the most authoritative manner in which curfew could be declared. A pandemic calls for decisive action; this option would be the stronger one also taking into account the extent to which rights of the public are affected by continuous restrictions on right to movement. It also must be noted that a declaration of a state of emergency is not required to use powers under Section 16 of the PSO.”

Sri Lanka eased the 24-hour curfew in the capital and the neighbouring district of Gampaha on May 27, but a nation-wide night curfew is maintained.

The country has reported 11 virus deaths and 1,880 infections.

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka report can be accessed here: http://www.hrcsl.lk/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/curfew.HRCSL-recommendation-final.pdf.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sri Lanka president appoints Supreme Court-faulted official as police chief after CC clearance

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe appointed Deshbandu Tennakoon as the 36th Inspector General of Police (IGP) of the country after the Constitutional Council (CC) cleared the official who along with three other police officers were asked by the Supreme Court to compensate 2 million rupees in a fundamental rights case last year.

“President Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed Deshbandu Tennakoon as the IGP in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution,” the President’s Media Division (PMD) said.

The island nation’s Supreme Court on December 14 ordered Tennakoon when he was the Acting IGP and three other officials to pay a compensation of 500,000 rupees each for the violation of the fundamental rights of an individual.

The Supreme Court also instructed the Police Commission to take disciplinary action against the said Police officers after it considered the petition filed by W. Ranjith Sumangala who had accused the Police officers of violating his fundamental rights during his detention at Mirihana Police Station in 2011.

The Supreme Court held that the four police officers violated the fundamental rights of the petitioner by his illegal arrest, detention and subjection to torture at the Mirihana Police Station, which was under the supervision of Tennakoon at the time of the arrest.

President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake presented the official appointment letter to Tennakoon on Monday (26) at the Presidential Secretariat.

When Tennakoon was asked over if the Supreme Court decision would have an impact on his appointment as the IGP last week, he declined to comment, saying that it was a Supreme Court matter and he does not want to say anything about it.

Tennakoon was also criticized by Colombo Archbishop Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith when he was appointed as the Acting IGP citing allegations against him related to security lapses leading up to the Easter Sunday attacks which killed at least 269 in April 2019.

However, Tennakoon rejected the allegations. (Colombo/Feb 26/2024)

Continue Reading

No water tariff hike in Sri Lanka this year: Minister

Millennium Challenge Corporation Photo.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s planned water tariff formula is ready, and the government will implement it this year only if the formula’s tariff is lower than the current price, Water Supply Minister Jeevan Thondaman said.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government has been implementing IMF-led pricing policies on utilities and the Water Supply Ministry has already come up with a formula.

“There is a water tariff formula in place right now and we are waiting for it to be drafted and seek approval from the cabinet,” Thondaman told reporters at a media briefing in Colombo on Monday.

“Once this water tariff formula is in place, there will be an annual revision with an option of biannual review.

The formula has been developed with the help of the Asian Development Bank. The formula includes electricity and exchange rate among many others as components like the fuel formula.

The National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWS&DB) increased the water tariff in August 2023, claiming that the operating cost had been increased owing to high interest payment for bank loans and increased electricity prices.

The last year revision saw the consumers paying 30-50 percent increase from the existing water bill.

Minister Thondaman said he will implement the new formula this year only if there is a reduction.

TARIFF CUT WILL BE IMPLEMENTED 

“We will have to wait to see what the formula is. If the formula shows us there needs to be a reduction in the water tariff, we can implement it. But if there is an increase, why should we burden the people when we are on a road to recovery?” he said.

He said a group of experts including University Professors are working on the formula and the numbers.

“Once they come with the number, we will have to take a decision on whether we are going to impose on the people or not,” he said.

“We have already spoken to the Asian Development Bank and informed them we have established the formula. But according to the ADB requirement of this policy-based loan, the implementation period is only in 2025.”

“But right now, you want to take the approval for the formula for sustainability.”

The Energy Ministry is considering a drastic slash in electricity tariff soon. Thondaman said the exact numbers will be decided on after the finalized electricity tariff.

However, he said that as per the formula, there has to be a up to 10 percent increase in the water tariff as of now.

“Given the current formula set up, there must be around a 9-10 percent increase. It was actually at 14 percent. What we have done is since it is at 14 percent, we also did a calculation to see how we can do a cost cutting,” he said.

“So, despite our cost cutting measures, there will be an increase of 9 or 10 percent. But we will not be imposing it as of now because this year is meant to be policy sector reforms. Next year is meant to be the implementation.”

“As per August 2023 water tariff hike, we are able to come close to sustainable. So right now, there is no issue in the water sector. But a formula eventually needs to be established.” (Colombo/Feb 26/2024)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka rupee closes at 310.80/311.00 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 310.80/311.00 to the US dollar Monday, from 310.95/311.05 on Thursday, dealers said.

Bond yields were down.

A bond maturing on 01.02.2026 closed stable at 10.60/80 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 11.80/90 percent down from 11.90/12.05 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.03.2028 closed at 12.00/12.15 percent down from 12.10/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.07.2029 closed at 12.20/70 percent from 12.20/95 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed at 12.30/70 percent down from 12.40/95 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2031 closed at 12.60/80 percent from 12.45/13.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 12.50/90 percent from 12.50/13.30 percent. (Colombo/Feb26/2024)

Continue Reading