Sri Lanka to end protest-driven state of emergency
Colombo, Aug 16 (EFE).- Sri Lanka’s government on Tuesday is to lift the state of emergency imposed nearly a month ago amid intense rallies that plunged the country and its institutions into weeks of chaos.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe assured that there will be no need to extend the state of emergency imposed on July 18 as the country has returned to “normal,” the presidential press office said in a statement.
The state of emergency will end on 18 August.
The restrictions were imposed by Wickremesinghe shortly after he replaced former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa who was forced to flee his official residence on July 9 amid mass protests.
Ending the state of emergency comes amid strong criticism against the newly formed government amid claims it used the measure as a way to intimidate and suppress anti-government protesters.
The state of emergency enables security forces to detain people and search private property without judicial intervention.
The Sri Lankan government seeks the support of the international community to alleviate the serious economic crisis the country has been struggling with and triggered the protests.
Earlier this month, a United Nations experts group condemned the “extensive, prolonged and repeated use of state of emergency” by the Sri Lankan government against protesters.
“We have raised our concerns to the Government on a number of occasions over the misuse of emergency measures, but to no avail,” the experts said in a statement.
“We condemn the recent and continued abuse of such measures to infringe on the legitimate exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression,” it read.
Human Rights Watch asked Sri Lanka’s partners to link international economic assistance to respecting human rights and addressing the causes of the crisis by the island’s government.
The island nation of 22 million people has been battling for months an economic meltdown that has triggered severe shortages of food and fuel amid dwindling foreign currency reserves.
Months-long mass protests forced the Rajapaksa to flee the country and resign on July 13, days after thousands of demonstrators stormed into his official residency.
The private residence of Wickremesinghe, who was serving as prime minister at the time, was also broken into and set on fire by protesters.
In the subsequent weeks, security forces began arresting and evicting protesters, who finally left the iconic camp — that served as the center of the demonstrations — last week. EFE