Written by Zulfick Farzan
15 Jun, 2020 | 6:21 pm
Colombo (News 1st); The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka informed the Government it is essential there is transparency in the declaration of curfew and all other forms of restriction of movement.
The HRCSL in a letter to the Secretary to the President, Secretary of Defence and the Inspector General of Police said the Health Minister has powers to restrict movement only over ‘diseased localities’, adding such powers do not confer wide enough authority to impose countrywide curfew as a precautionary measure.
The Commission however recognizes the need to restrict freedom of movement in the interest of public health and public order during an extraordinary health emergency such as that facing the country at present.
The letter points out the commission had received expressions of public concern regarding the legality of the manner in which curfew is imposed present.
The HRCSL recommends two ways in which the imposition of curfew can be regularized.
1. The President could declare curfew by order gazetted under Section 16 of the Public Securities Ordinance. The commission added that a declaration of a state of emergency is not required to issue such an order.
2. The Minister could make regulations under the quarantine and disease prevention ordinance to prevent movement over “diseased localities”. However, this provision does not confer authority to the authority appointed by the Minister to impose an island-wide curfew.
The Commission adds although the current curfew is purportedly declared by the police under the Quarantine and Disease Prevention Ordinance, the declarations are not available in the public domain.
In the letter, the HRCSL stressed on the need for restrictions of movement in the country to be imposed in a manner compatible with constitutional provisions and international human rights obligations of Sri Lanka.
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