Monday, October 18, 2010

"Sri Lanka is heading for a Taliban era police state situation" says young couples

By Gayan Kumara Weerasinghe | Lakbima News

Couples speaking to Lakbima News urge a human rights organization to challenge the police harassment they underwent, in courts on behalf of them, as their personal freedom is curtailed day by day.

We spoke to many couples at Galle Face and Viharamahadevi Park and in anonymity, they said that they only spend time talking to their lovers and do not engage in any sexual activities. But they are in fear whether police would arrest them as police arrested couples on Polhena beach in Matara, and at Galle Fort recently.

“We even fear to hold hands. We feel that we are losing our freedom to talk to our lovers. This country is heading for a Taliban era police state situation”, they said.

Meanwhile, some 13 hotels and guest houses in Kurunegala which had been pounced upon by the police to nab suspected couples a few weeks ago are shut down at the moment.

As a result of this closure of hotels and guest houses, Kurunegala town could now only boast of one such hotel with basic lodging facilities.

That hotel bears the name ‘Wickrema’ and it has 53 rooms, and according to the owners of that hotel the Kurunegala police are keen to close it down as well, hence their decision to swoop down on alleged couples staying at the hotel.

The Kurunegala police as a result of their swoop on hotel ‘Wickrema’ had taken 47 such couples out of 47 rooms recently.

Hotel and guest house rooms

These couples after being taken to the police station had been benched, and they had been sternly warned not to visit any hotel in the town.

SSP Vaas Gunawardene in charge of the Kurunegala Division, stated that the reason for sending cops to swoop on hotel and guest house rooms, was to nab ‘suspects’ as they had received ‘information’ .

As a result of it all people inside hotel and guest house rooms have to be checked and they invariably have to be taken into custody, he said.

“During most of these raids we have managed to nab several school children as well, those who leave home under the ruse of going for extra lessons end up in the rooms for casual sex and all other kinds of vices”, SSP Vass Gunawardene opined.

He remarked that though adults are within their rights to do whatever they want inside rooms, as police they cannot condone school children being left alone to their devices, in such places.

He commented that Kurunegala has already emerged as the city with the highest number of brothels and the largest number of abortions taking place in this country. He said it was up to the law enforcement authorities to curb the menace, hence their decision to swoop down on suspected couples at hotels and guest houses in the town area.

SSP Vaas Gunawardene stressed that one of the main reasons for abortions to escalate in the area was school children being left alone in rooms in such guest houses and other hotels.

He further explained that despite repeated requests to hotel and guest house owners not to permit underage males and females to patronize their rooms, such pleas had fallen on deaf ears prompting them to carry out raids as a last resort.

Adultery not an offence

Meanwhile, Senior Lecturer of the Law Faculty of the Colombo University Prathiba Mahanama noted that nabbing couples occupying hotel or guest house rooms was against the law.

He added that school-going children would never occupy such places and that this was a lame excuse trotted out by the police.

“Apprehending couples who are beyond the age limit required to stay in such rooms is a slight on the judiciary itself”, Mahanama said.

“The reason for this is, the judiciary has clearly granted the approval and the right to any couple who are not underage, from staying in such rooms”.

He further pointed out that recently the OIC of the Seeduwa police having deployed a team, had nabbed a couple occupying a hotel room.

“The male was married while the female was unmarried and they were produced before court as a couple who had extra-marital sex”, Mahanama added.

“However, that couple appealed to the SC through a fundamental rights application and the SC gave the ruling that any couple irrespective of whether they are married or not could occupy rooms of their choice -- and that it does not come under an offence.’’

“The SC has clearly indicated that adultery is only relevant in a divorce case and the only charge that could be directed would be at people who are below the age of 16 from occupying such hotels or guest houses, in which case sex becomes statutory rape”.

Prathiba Mahanama also asserted that the police can only raid brothels with a search warrant issued by a court and not otherwise.

In that sense he affirmed that if a couple who are occupying a room according to their wishes are evicted forcibly by the police, such couples could always file fundamental rights case against their tormentors.

© Lakbima News

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

lovers coming to galle fort, are not just holding hands, but most of the times engaging in very public vulgar sex please differentiate between galle fort and other sites. galle fort is an archaeological reserve like sigiriya/polonnaruwa/anuradhapura.

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