Government rejects reports of protest ban during CHOGM next month

Protest electricity   The government says there is no move to ban protests or demonstrations during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka next month.

Addressing a media briefing, the Director General of Media Centre for National Security Lakshman Hulugalla has said that there was no truth to the reports.

However, for security reasons there will be some restriction during that time period, he said adding that there may be road closures for short periods of time to allow the delegates attending the CHOGM to travel within the city.

Hulugalla further has said that the statement made by the Legal Advisor to the Defence Ministry, Hariguptha Rohanadheera and reported by the local media that the government has made this decision as part of the security plan during the CHOGM summit scheduled to commence in Colombo on November 15th has been corrected.

He added that any such notice would be delivered by the Media Center for National Security.

Media reports said the government under the public security regulations has directed that protests, marches and the display of banners and black flags be banned during the first three weeks of November.

Picking up on the reported ban rights watchdog Amnesty International Asia-Pacific Deputy Director Polly Truscott said  the ban would be a “blatant attempt to sweep human rights abuses under the carpet”.

“Such a ban would fly in the face of ‘Commonwealth values’ that respect human rights, including freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, “.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s international media spokesperson Anuradha Herath too said in a tweet that reports of a ban on protest marches and the display of banners and black flags during the summit is not true.

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