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Defence Authorities goes beyond its mandate:

Written By Freedam to the nation resettlement of IDPs on Monday, July 7, 2014 | 9:34 PM

This is the final version of the statement of the Lawyers Collective.

Defence Authorities goes beyond its mandate: Lawyers Collective

Attached Communication was issued under the hand of the Director of National Secratariat of NGOs, an arm of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) recently.

The MoD does not enjoy any specific legal authority under any statute whatsoever to control  freedom of speech and association of citizens,  who act collectively through civil society organisations. In the circumstances, it is clear from the attached Communication  that the Defence Authorities have  acted beyond its mandate.

Analysis of the Communication shows that the Defence authorities appear to believe that the civil society organisations do not have  any right to conduct "press conferences, workshops, training for journalists, and dissemination of press releases".  All  governments that respect democratic values respect the rights of citizens to engage in such lawful activities. Only authoritarian regimes  prevent such democratic engagements.  If the Government of Sri Lanka is serious in preserving the democratic character of the country, it must respect its own Constitutional freedoms such as Freedom of  Expression and Association.

The communication of the Director of National Secretariat for NGOs  is an indication of the limited understanding of powerful Sri Lankan defense establishment on the civil liberties. The conduct of the MoD in issuing such communication  further strengthens the allegation that Sri Lanka has now become an Authoritarian State. 

JC Weliamuna & Lal Wijenayaka 
Conveners of Lawyers Collective
7th July 2014

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