STF deployed in Colombo

The STF Commandant has asked his deputies to deploy STF personnel in Colombo and suburbs on 08 and 09 July in view of the scheduled protest marches.Issuing a letter to his deputies, STF Commandant has said that the Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) has organised a protest march in Colombo. On 09 July, large crowds will gather in Colombo demanding the resignation of the President.Therefore, STF personnel must be deployed to provide adequate security, he said.

Emphasis will be placed on providing security to the President’s house, Temple Trees, private residence of the Prime Minister and the Police Headquarters, the Commandant has said.However, Police Spokesman, SSP Nihal Thalduwa said he was not aware of a letter the STF Commandant had sent to his deputies.

SSP Thalduwa said that Police had done what it could to ensure the safety of the people during the protests. The IGP too has assured that the people have the right to peacefully assemble and demonstrate, he said.On Thursday (07), the Inspector General of Police, C.D. Wickramaratne said that peaceful protests will not be obstructed.Issuing a special statement, the IGP said the Police always respected the right of free speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution, as well as the freedom of peaceful assembly.

However, he urged the protesters to remain peaceful and refrain from harassing government and private employees during the protests.

On the same day (07) the Fort Police requested the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court to issue an order banning protesters from coming near the President’s house premises on Friday (8) and Saturday. The request was made through the Attorney General. Colombo Additional Magistrate Keminda Perera rejected the request saying that the police have the power to prevent anyone from committing any offence or causing any disturbance to the public.Deputy Solicitor General Janaka Bandara, appearing for the police, told court that political parties, civil society activists and trade unions would hold massive protests in Colombo on Friday and Saturday. Those attending protests would be members of an unlawful assembly, Bandara said.

Appearing for the protesters, President’s Counsel Saliya Pieris said the police are trying to use the judiciary as a weapon to suppress people’s fundamental rights. Pieris told the court that police were empowered to take necessary action in accordance with section 95, 96 and 97 of the Criminal Procedure Code in the event of committing an offence.

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