Sri Lanka gives emergency powers to Army, Police after violence


Sri Lanka has given emergency powers to its military and police to arrest people without warrants, after a day of violence that killed seven people and injured more than 200 in violence that prompted Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to resign. As the Indian Ocean nation battles its worst economic crisis in history, thousands of protesters had defied curfew to attack government figures, setting ablaze homes, shops and businesses belonging to governing party legislators and provincial politicians. Despite sporadic reports of unrest, the situation calmed by Tuesday, said police spokesman Nihal Thalduwa, adding that about 200 people had been injured in violence that led to an islandwide curfew until 7am (01:30 GMT) on Wednesday. The government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the younger brother of the prime minister, outlined broad powers for the military and police to detain and question people without arrest warrants. The military can detain people for up to 24 hours before handing them to police, while any private property can be searched by forces, including private vehicles, the government said in a gazette notification . Any person arrested by a police officer shall be taken to the nearest police station it said, fixing a 24-hour deadline for the armed forces to do the same. There is a heavy military presence. On our way, we were stopped at multiple checkpoints manned by the air force, some by the army and the navy, Al Jazeera’s Minelle Fernandez said in her report from Colombo .Some analysts expressed concern over the potential for abuse of the emergency measures. In a situation where there is both a state of emergency and curfew who can monitor to ensure these regulations are not abused said Bhavani Fonseka of the Centre for Policy Alternatives think-tank based in Colombo. The president had already declared a state of emergency on Friday as protests escalated.