UN High Commissioner urges authorities to exercise restraint and protesters to remain peaceful

COLOMBO (News 1st); The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has urged the Sri Lankan authorities to exercise restraint in policing the gatherings and to make every effort to prevent violence, before what should be a big demonstration in Colombo on Saturday July 9th.

At the same time, OHCHR called on protest organizers and their supporters to use peaceful means of protest and not to impede essential medical or humanitarian services.

In addition, the High Commissioner for Human Rights also calls on the authorities to issue clear instructions to security forces that human rights defenders and journalists have the right to monitor and report on protests and must therefore be protected in the exercise of these functions and not be hindered. whatever sort of.

Citing incidents where the police sometimes used tear gas and water cannons in an unnecessary and disproportionate way, the OHCHR says that on some occasions the armed forces also fired live ammunition.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights stresses that all Sri Lankans have the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and the right to participate in public affairs, which are particularly important in critical phases of life. of the nation.

Accordingly, under applicable international law, assemblies can only be dispersed in exceptional cases, with the use of force being a last resort when absolutely necessary and proportionate.

OHCHR says while it recognizes the challenges facing the police and armed forces – including instances of attacks on themselves – the government must issue strict instructions to the police and armed forces to refrain from using violence in their dealings with the public and act with the utmost restraint.

As a general rule, the military should not be accustomed to policing gatherings. Where, in exceptional circumstances, members of the military perform law enforcement duties, they are bound by international norms and standards and must remain fully subordinate to civilian authorities and accountable under civil law.

OHCHR says the people of Sri Lanka are already suffering greatly and living in continuing uncertainty about how they can meet their basic needs, including access to the right to food, health and education , and that he has the right to demonstrate peacefully to demand a better life and an end to economic and social hardship.

The statement reiterates the High Commissioner’s call for an open and genuine dialogue to address the root causes of the crisis and the grievances of the people.

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