Kataragama rioters cum looters given bail crowd control methods problematic –HRCSL Chair Reiterates call for the Police to come up with crowd control manual

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By 2018-01-23

BY Ruwan Laknath Jayakody and Kavindya Chris Thomas

In the wake of the death of a motorcyclist in Kataragama, following Police shooting him, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka reiterated that the Commission's previous call for the Police Department to come up with their own manual, containing directives and guidelines on crowd control, still stood pertinent.

The Commission has, without waiting for a complaint to be lodged with it, in this regard, has since sent a team from their Matara office to conduct investigations into the incident. It added that the investigations are presently ongoing. "There has been a death. What really happened needs to be looked into."

Chairperson of the Commission, Dr. Deepika Udagama said that the methods utilized by the Police in crowd control are problematic.

"When we issued recommendations in the case of the attack on the Higher National Diploma in Accountancy students, the Police took us to Court. That case is still pending. However, crowd control continues to remain a problem, owing to continued allegations of assault, so and so forth. We then suggested that the Police come up with their own manual as the methods used by them are problematic. The validity of our calling for the improvement in crowd control and its necessity still stands," she added.

Meanwhile, the group of rioters who ransacked public property in Kataragama, following the incident, were released on bail, the Police said.

The Police Media Spokesperson's Office reported that 58 individuals who were arrested during the Kataragama incident on 20 January and 21 January were produced before the Tissamaharama Magistrate, who released them on bail. The group included 45 men and 13 women who rioted in front of the Kataragama Police, following an alleged wrongful Police shooting of a motorcyclist.

According to the Police, the biker had ridden off ignoring, Police warnings to stop. Subsequently, a group of residents had commenced a protest which resulted in the destruction of several public properties and saw the rioters attacking the Kataragama Police station. Police Special Task Force officers were deployed as the situation intensified which resulted in a barrage of tear gas being fired to disperse the violent protesters.

The Police Officer arrested over the shooting incident in Kataragama on 20 January night, was remanded till 30 January by the Kataragama Magistrate's Court.

The group of rioters were enlarged on bail by Tissamaharama Magistrate's Court under a surety bail of Rs 200,000. The rioters were also warned to not instigate any similar incidents following the final rites of the deceased individual.

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