BASL calls to revoke State of Emergency
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) says that they are of the view that "at a time when the election to the office of President has been scheduled in Parliament, the Emergency Regulations must not be used to suppress any legitimate expression of opinion on the election of the President nor to suppress any dissent or disagreement on a particular candidate."
"However, it must also be noted that whilst undue influence or threats are prohibited, the law does not preclude a member of the public from expressing his or her view on the election or the choice of a particular candidate or the relative merits or demerits of a candidate at the election," the BASL notes in a special statement.
The statement also notes :
"The BASL is firmly of the view that the right to protest and the right to dissent are important aspects of the fundamental rights of the people including the freedom of expression and the freedom of peaceful assembly. The BASL reiterates that the State of Emergency must not be used to stifle peaceful protests and dissent or to make arbitrary arrests and detentions."
"As the BASL has noted time and again if a peaceful protest becomes violent, that will only dilute the objective and purpose of a peaceful expression of dissent and strengthen the hands of those who seek to suppress legitimate dissent. Those engaged in protests must take utmost care to ensure that such protests remain peaceful and must be wary of persons who might seek to cause violence and destruction during such protests."
Noting that "a declaration of a state of emergency is not the answer to the present situation in the country, including the spate of public protests which have occurred which resulted in the eventual resignation of the former President," the BASL calls upon Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe to revoke the proclamation declaring a State of Emergency."
The full statement of the BASL is as follows :