Following the imposition of the State of Emergency, the Police and Tri-forces had been empowered to arrest anyone who creates violence or communal disharmony with the arrested being either sentenced to 20 years imprisonment or sentenced to life imprisonment, Police Spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekara said.
Based on the intelligence reports, the Government in a extraordinary Gazette No 2061/18 declared the State of Emergency at 2.45 pm yesterday for a period of seven days under the provisions of Clause five in Section two of the Public Security Ordinance.
SP Gunasekara said President Maithripala Sirisena had imposed special regulations declaring severe punishments for criminal acts.
Accordingly, causing deaths and injuries, sexual harassment, damaging to properties, burglary and obtain properties by force, robbing, behaviours obstructing ethnic harmony, distributing information leading to disharmony, hate speeches, statements, reports, using social media for such action had been declared as criminal acts.
If anyone is found guilty of committing such acts, attempt to commit or conspiracies for such actions would be subjected to either 20 years of imprisonment or life imprisonment.
In addition to the police, all the members attached to tri-forces had been given authority to arrest individuals who commit identified offences during the period of the State of Emergency.
SP Gunasekara explained that the arrested suspects should be immediately handed over to the nearest Police Station and that they should be produce before a magistrate within 24 hours by the police.
However, concerning the nature of the offence, DIGs had been given the authority to issue detention orders to hold the suspects in Police Custody not exceeding 14-days if there was a need for further investigations.
“Once a suspect was produced in a Court, they can only be released under special circumstances or should be held in remand custody until the trial is over” he added.
Meanwhile, the State officials and statutory bodies were given authority to take necessary steps to prevent spread of false information or news that harbour fear or a threat to communal harmony on social media or any other medium.
He further said the Police, Tri-forces personnel, State officials and statutory bodies were bound by law to prevent violation of special regulations adopted under State of Emergency situation.
A close watch has been set up with the support of Sri Lanka Computer Emergency Readiness Team (SLCERT) and the Crime Investigation Division (CID) computer room to prevent acts cause on communal disharmony via social media.
Further he said special orders were issued by the President soon after declaring the State of Emergency last evening to control the mobs in several areas using the given authority as soon as possible.
The President had ordered to the relevant authorities to implement the new regulations without violating the Fundamental Rights of the public.
SP Gunasekara said the President had strictly instructed to enforce the law on criminal suspects without taking into consideration of their status, race, religion or political loyalty.
He said the Government is observing the prevailing situation continuously and is willing to lift the State of Emergency soon after the tense situation was brought completely under control.
Police and the Security Forces heads who met, soon after the declaration, had designed and initiated a special security protocol especially for the areas where the tense situation prevailed by last evening.
SP Gunasekara advised the public to inform the nearest police station or the Police Headquarters if they receive any information of crime incident or attempts of such activity.
Police requested the public to adhere to the country’s law and ensure the law and order and to give the their fullest cooperation to the law authorities.
Meanwhile, the police curfew had been re-imposed in Kandy administrative district from 8 pm last evening until 6 am today.
All government schools in the Kandy administrative district would remained close today as well under the instructions of Chief Minister Sarath Ekanayake.