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Security Measures Alone Cannot Protect Civilians

Security Measures Alone Cannot Protect Civilians

A pattern of attacks on the civilian population appears to have taken hold with with the latest claymore mine attack on a public bus in Kebettigollewa in the Anuradhapura district, where a similar claymore mine attack took the lives of more than 60 people last year in June.

The National Peace Council condemns this bomb blast suspected to be by the LTTE which took place on December 5, killing 16 persons and wounding at least 38 others. The increased frequency in this type of attacks by multiple parties including government forces suggests that a new phase of the conflict has been entered, with non-combatants being targeted in order to gain the military upper hand.

The events of the last week strongly suggest that despite the mass arrest of Tamils, stricter controls at check-points and night visits by armed forces personnel to Colombo households, the security situation is deteriorating rather than improving.

These measures do not appear to provide greater civilian security and we are now seeing the tragic result of this lack of protection. The question the government and the Sri Lankan people now need to confront is whether these attacks on civilians will be halted by a reliance only on increased security measures.

This point has been raised by the Supreme Court in its recent ruling against security checkpoints that dot the city. In the course of a judgement of a case filed for alleged arbitrary arrest and detention at a checkpoint on a main road in Colombo, the Supreme Court pointed out that checkpoints obstruct the free movement of Sri Lankan citizens and that checkpoint personnel harass them as they go about their lawful business. The court also pointed out that these checkpoints had been of limited effectiveness in preventing attacks.

We ask the government to consider whether the current security measures are successfully combating the horrifying attacks on civilians of the type we have seen in the recent past. NPC believes that a military approach will not end the ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka, nor will guarantee the safety of civilians.

We take strength for our own continued activism in favour of democratic rights from the judicial support for the fundamental rights of Sri Lankan citizens to be treated as equals before the law and to enjoy their full freedoms. We call for a resumption of political dialogue on a political solution while demanding an end to attacks on civilians by all sides and for the protection of civilians at all times.

Executive Director
On behalf of Governing Council

ENDS

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