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Sri Lanka: One person killed and dozens injured after police attack peaceful protesters

Sri Lanka police stand up against barricades with gas masks to protect themselves from tear gas
One protester is dead and dozens injured after the unlawful use of water cannons and tear gas by the police in Colombo (library image) © AFP via Getty Images

Responding to the news that one protester was killed and dozens injured as a result of the unlawful use of water cannons and tear gas by police in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Sunday, Harindrini Corea, Amnesty International’s Regional Researcher for the Right to Protest, said:

“It is worrying that even after months of widespread protests in the country, the Sri Lankan police need to be constantly reminded of their duty to facilitate the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and exercise restraint in the use of force while policing protests. Their actions over the past few months have cost the lives of many peaceful protesters - including another death today.

“Weapons that are less lethal but have indiscriminate effects and a high potential for harm must not be used against people during peaceful assembly where there is no widespread violence.

“Videos from yesterday show that the protesters were in a confined space without the possibility for dispersal or escape, and yet the police used water cannons and tear gas in violation of international human rights law and standards on the use of force.

“Independent and impartial investigations must be promptly launched into all allegations of human rights violations, including the deaths reported in the context of the protests, so that all those found responsible are brought to justice in fair trials.”

Police attack non-violent protesters

On Sunday (26 February), the National People's Power party demonstrated in Colombo against the postponement of local government elections.

The Sri Lanka police responded with excessive use of water cannons and tear gas against the peaceful protesters resulting in the death of one person and injuring more than two dozen people, including some having to be sent to hospital.

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