Sri Lanka: ‘Ready to suppress any protest’: Unlawful use of weapons during protests

Sri Lanka’s law enforcement officials engaged in the violent repression of protests must be held accountable for committing widespread human rights violations, said Amnesty International in a new investigative report released today.

The report, ‘Ready to suppress any protest’ in Sri Lanka: Unlawful use of weapons during protests’, analyses the use of force during policing of 30 protests that took place in Sri Lanka between March 2022 and June 2023. Amnesty International’s research shows a pattern in the unlawful use of tear gas and water cannon and the misuse of batons by Sri Lankan law enforcement officials with video evidence revealing that in at least 17 protests – more than half of those analysed – the conduct of law enforcement officials fell well short of international law and standards on the use of force.

“From the outset, the Sri Lanka’s police approached the 2022-23 protests assuming that they would be unlawful and violent and that they would need to use force to repress them. The police failed to recognize that people have the right to peacefully protest, and that the authorities have a duty to facilitate and protect protests. Instead, they targeted, chased, and beat largely peaceful protesters,” said Smriti Singh, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for South Asia.

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