Dr. Jasinghe contradicts police claim

Contradicting statements made by the Police quoting him, Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Dr. Anil Jasinghe said that there is no ban on organised protests as long as protestors adhere to health guidelines.

He said that the ability to protest is a democratic right and that right should be granted to the citizens of Sri Lanka, even at a time of a pandemic.

“As long as these protestors adhere to the health guidelines that have been issued for the purpose of public gatherings, like wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, and practising good hygiene, they should be allowed to stage protests. While we discourage large gatherings taking place at this moment, they can use a minimum number of participants for this purpose,” Dr. Jasinghe told The Sunday Morning on Friday (12).

Earlier this week, Police Media Spokesman SP Jaliya Senaratne had quoted the DGHS to have said that protests were not allowed due to the Covid-19 pandemic still being a looming threat to public health. SP Senaratne noted that the public has been critical about the actions of the Police since the arrests were made.

“Our officers had informed the Magistrate’s Court about the protest that was to be held on Tuesday (9), and given the present pandemic situation in the country, the Magistrate issued a court order to halt the protest activities to safeguard the public as well as the protestors.

We informed the protestors about the court decision, but they continued with their protest,” he said.

The Police said that the arrests were made for violating the court order, violating the Quarantine Act, and for disrupting Police duty.