Bar Association urges law enforcement to exercise restraint as public languishes in queues

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Bar Association urges law enforcement to exercise restraint as public languishes in queues

Saturday, June 18, 2022, 6:43 p.m. SL time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

18 June, Colombo: The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has stressed that it is of the utmost importance that those who apply the law act with restraint and caution in their dealings with the public.

“Thousands of people across our country wait in mile-long queues for hours. It is essential that police officers, in carrying out their duties, act with understanding and empathy and acknowledge the immense suffering of the public,” BASL President Saliya Peiris said in a statement.

MEDIA STATEMENT BY THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE SRI LANKA BAR ASSOCIATION ON THE LAW AND ORDER SITUATION

Thousands of people across our country wait in mile-long queues for hours and sometimes days for gasoline and diesel. This is apart from the severe shortages of gas and other essentials that people have faced with no solution in sight. Many people are deprived of their regular income and have no way to feed their families. There have also been several reported deaths of people in queues and due to lack of medicine. The dire situation in the country has driven people to despair, leading to frustration and anger.

Over the past few days, there have been increasing reports of public concern, particularly at gas stations in several parts of the country.

Recent footage of a pistol-wielding police officer assaulting a member of the public at a gas shed in Maspotha, Kurunegala, and the ensuing exchange of words and scenes of violence at a petrol station service in Athurugiriya are just examples of the unstable situation across the country. .

We recognize the difficult environment in which members of the police and armed forces are forced to operate at present, as they and their families no doubt face the same pressures as the rest of the public. Nevertheless, it is of the utmost importance that those who enforce the law act with restraint and caution in their dealings with the public. It is essential that police officers, in carrying out their duties, act with understanding and empathy and recognize the immense suffering of the public. Law enforcement officials must, in all cases, act fairly and impartially. Any act seen as biased and unfair will add to the mistrust that already exists.

We call on the Sri Lankan government to take urgent and practical steps to ease the burden on the public and ensure that the needs of the public are reasonably met. Besides disclosing to the public the seriousness of the situation, it is of the utmost importance that the government regularly informs the public of its plans to bring the country out of the political, economic and social crisis; as well as on the ongoing progress of its work on these issues and its plans to address shortages of fuel and gas and other essential commodities and the progress of these plans.

BASL reaffirms that reassuring the population and building public confidence are important steps in dealing with these crises. Public distrust of government and law enforcement will have disastrous consequences for the country and cause irreparable harm.

Saliya PIERIS, CP
President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka

ISURU BALAPATABENDI
Secretary of the Sri Lanka Bar Association




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