SRI LANKA: Recently declared emergency may cause the increase of offences by the security forces 

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is forwarding a statement issued by Civil Rights Movement (CRM) of Sri Lanka on 13 January 2005, regarding the emergency (namely Part II of the Public Security Ordinance was brought into operation by Presidential proclamation) declared by President Chandrika Kumaratunga in 14 districts on 4 January 2005. This is different from the declaration of a state of national disaster made by the President just after the tsunami, which is not a legal term.

According to CRM, no publicity has been given to this in the media including the state-control media. CRM expressed its deep concern in its statement that it may possibly allow the security forces to commit serious human rights violations including extra-judicial killings.

If you questions, please do not hesitate to contact CRM.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)


CRM calls for publicity and accountability

The Civil Rights Movement (CRM) has just learned that over a week ago, on Tuesday 4 January 2005, emergency was declared (namely Part II of the Public Security Ordinance was brought into operation by Presidential proclamation) in 14 districts. The details are annexed. (This is not to be confused with the report of the declaration of a state of national disaster reported to have made by the President just after the catastrophe, which is not a legal term).

So far as CRM has been able to ascertain no publicity has been given to this in the media. It has certainly not been reported in the English daily press including the state-controlled Daily News.

Declaring emergency enables the President to make regulations bypassing Parliament. CRM is not aware what orders or regulations may have been made in pursuance of this Proclamation.

It is imperative that the people should know under what laws they are governed. CRM has time and time again over the years protested to governments of all political complexions at the inaccessibility of emergency regulations (For example CRM statements [E 01/2/92 of 29 February 1992; E 02/11/88 of 21 November 1988; E 07/9/94 of 27 September 1994; E 02/11/94 of 29 November 1994] ). Furthermore, unless such regulations are accessible to the public, their legal validity is doubtful. Although the unprecedented situation caused by the Tsunami disaster may explain and excuse failure to comply with certain norms, CRM is unable to see any reason why publicity cannot be given to the declaration of emergency and any steps taken thereafter.

While appreciating the crucial role and importance of security forces and police in relief and rehabilitation as well as the maintenance of law and order in the present crisis, in which they must receive our fullest support, CRM is deeply conscious of the possibility of elements in these forces resorting to serious offences including extra-judicial killings. This has happened in the past when the security forces have had to meet a security concern, and should not be allowed to recur.

Maintenance of law and order must be a primary concern along with relief and rehabilitation. If the very forces of law and order are themselves seen to commit not just minor transgressions, but what are in fact major offences, then the very basis of this goal is undermined.

This information has come at a time when CRM is preparing a document on several aspects of the disaster relevant to the human rights of the people, which will be issued in due course. Meanwhile as a matter of urgency we ask the Government to:

a) Ensure that all proclamations, orders and regulations under the Public Security Ordinance are published contemporaneously in all three language media:

b) Ensure a strict check is kept on all shootings by the security forces. The use of firearms/bullets must be accounted for and reported to superiors and accounted for publicly. Details of any killings in the course of law enforcement of law and order so far should be announced publicly:

c) Ensure that any deaths now occurring are subjected to the normal inquest requirements.

Suriya Wickremasinghe
CRM Secretary
4 Charles Circus
Colombo 3
Tel (94 11) 2573887, fax (94 11) 2576317 email
January 13, 2005


The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

No. 1374/8 ?Tuesday, January 04, 2005
(Published by Authority)

Proclamations, &c., by the President


Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga

WHEREAS I, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, President, being of opinion that by reason of the existence of a state of public emergency in such parts of Sri Lanka as are specified in the schedule hereto, it is expedient so to do in the interests of public security, the preservation of public order and the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community, do, by virtue of the powers vested in me by section 2 of the Public Security Ordinance (Chapter 40), by this Proclamation declare that the provisions of Part II of the aforesaid Ordinance, shall come into operation in such parts of Sri Lanka as are specified in the Schedule hereto, on the 04th day of January, Two Thousand and Five.

Given at Colombo, on the 04th day of January, Two Thousand and Five.

By Her Excellency’s command,

Secretary to the President

1. The Administrative District of Colombo
2. The Administrative District of Gampaha
3. The Administrative District of Kalutara
4. The Administrative District of Galle
5. The Administrative District of Matara
6. The Administrative District of Hambantota
7. The Administrative District of Jaffna
8. The Administrative District of Killinochchi
9. The Administrative District of Vavuniya
10. The Administrative District of Mullaitivu
11. The Administrative District of Batticaloa
12. The Administrative District of Ampara
13. The Administrative District of Trincomalee
14. The Administrative District of Puttalam


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

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Document Type : Forwarded Urgent Appeal
Document ID : FA-02-2005
Countries : Sri Lanka,