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Petition seeks freedom of movement for displaced

B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: The Centre for Policy Alternative (CPA), a Colombo based think-tank, has filed a fundamental rights application in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka challenging the restrictions on the free movement of the 2.8 lakh war-displaced sheltered in government-run camps spread across three districts in the north of Sri Lanka.

In its petition, the CPA said restriction of free movement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) was a violation of their fundamental rights. The CPA, which is critical of the government’s approach on Eelam War IV, had received an anonymous threat letter a few days ago.

The petitioners, the CPA and its executive director Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu, cited President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Competent Authority for Northern Province G.A. Chandrasiri as respondents.

The petition said the IDPs had begun arriving in government-controlled areas in March 2009. “These IDPs are housed in camps encircled by barbed wire and the displaced persons are not permitted to leave the camps without approval from military officials,” the petition said.

It stated even U.N. and ICRC officials were not allowed into these camps without the permission of the military. The application said the Vavuniya Magistrate had recorded the death of 30 senior citizens due to starvation and malnutrition.

The application said at present there were 3,100 public servants, 6,700 persons over the age of sixty, 780 pregnant women and disabled persons among the IDPs.

The petition argued that continued restriction of the IDPs in camps was in violation of their fundamental rights to equality and freedom of movement and prayed for an interim order ensuring that all the IDPs in the camps were entitled to free movement.

Separately, on Friday, Sri Lankan Parliament approved three months leave for three pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarians who sought permission from the House. The MPs are Selvam Adaikalanathan, S. Jeyanandamoorthy and S.Gajendran.

Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara gave permission after considering the medical reports submitted by the three TNA MPs. Some members of the House had opposed granting extension of leave to the TNA MPs. They contended that the four MPs were attempting to leave the country to carry out their programmes to divide the nation.

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