ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday December 9, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 28

Arrest of Tamils challenged

By Teles Anandappa

The Supreme Court granted leave to proceed in a fundamental rights petition filed by the Ceylon Workers Congress against the arrest of Tamil citizens in the Western Province after the bomb blast in Nugegoda. The petitioners cited Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Navy Commander, Army Commander, IGP Victor Perera, OICs of Minuwangoda, Kirulapona, Bambalapitiya and Pettah Police stations and the Attorney General as respondents.

The attorney for the petitioner said the arrests were discriminatory as the people who were arrested were all Tamils and they were not informed of the reason for their arrest. He said the directive to arrest the Tamils came from Parliament itself. He also said that most of the persons arrested had identity cards and were employed in Colombo.

The petitioners claimed that at present there were about 300 persons still in custody at the Boossa Camp and at some police stations without any reasons given for their arrest and detention, but simply because they were Tamils. Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Shavindra Fernando said that according to the instructions he had received there were only about a 100 persons detained.

The petitioner said the arrests of the Tamil people were an infringement of their fundamental rights to freedom of religion, freedom from torture, the right to equality and equal protection under the law, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention and freedom of occupation and movement.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice Sarath N Silva, Justices N. Amaratunge and J Balapatabendi were of the view that their should be a formulative method to curb the arrest and detention of innocent Tamils within the ambit of the law to prevent this happening in the future.

They also said that even under the emergency regulations arrests of this nature were not permitted. The Court directed the DSG to submit the names and addresses of the persons at present in custody by tomorrow. Court also directed the DSG to submit the names of the other people who were detained after the release of some people and to disclose the reason for their detention by December 12.

The Court directed that the petitioner reserved the right to file individual fundamental rights petitions if any of them were assaulted or treated inhumanly after they were arrested by the police following the bomb blast in Nugegoda. The case was listed for hearing tomorrow and on Friday.

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