When 28 suspects who were attacked and unjustly arrested during a peaceful protest held on August 30th were presented to the Maligakanda Magistrate Court on August 31st, a group of lawyers including President’s Counsel Saliya Peiris and President’s Counsel M.A. Sumanthiran appeared and made some strong comments.
They firmly emphasized the right to protest in this country. In the end, all 28 people who were presented to court were granted bail.
After the case hearing, M. A. Sumanthiran spoke to the media and said:
‘28 people were presented to court for protesting the government. A group of us including President’s Counsel Saliya Peiris appeared. We pointed out that every citizen has the right to protest. Not only a right, but also a responsibility to correct the government if it makes a mistake. For over thirty years, it has been clearly stated in our Supreme Court that this is the law. Everyone knows the case Amaratunga v. Sirimal and Others (“Jana Ghosha”). In 1992, it was Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa who led this case. The Supreme Court then ruled that the Inspector General of Police should be informed, protesting the government is not illegal, and that the police should provide protection for such demonstrations. This was stated in 1993 itself. Ten years later a court ruling stated that the police should not only allow, but also encourage such protests. Therefore, no one can be arrested for protesting the government.
That is why we said that those who were presented by the police today have not committed any crime and asked for them to be released. Or if that’s not enough for the police, at least release them on bail.
We showed photographs of protesters sitting on the roadside. It was the police that blocked the road. This can be clearly seen in the photographs.
The judge released everyone on personal bail. The case will be recalled on November 23rd.’