ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday December 30, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 31

Legal action – People’s last resort to gain rights

The recent Supreme Court ruling to dismantle all unnecessary security barriers and checkpoints, as such structures impede the normal work of the people and violate the people's right to free movement, is a monumental verdict towards safeguarding fundamental rights.

The gentleman who filed the case in this regard should be commended for standing up for his rights when most victims fail to muster enough courage to venture onto a legal path against the state. For years now, people of this land have had to undergo much inconvenience and harassment at the hands of incompetent police officers due to the security arrangements in place to thwart terrorism. Every suicide bombing or assassination or attempt on the life of a key figure has been followed by additional security measures.

But as the Supreme Court, so rightly pointed out, all these precautionary measures have failed to serve their purpose, as is evident from the recent bombings in Col.5 and Nugegoda, a thought for all those elements in the government who seem to be displeased with the SC verdict, to ponder.

What is regrettable and disheartening and what most of us fail to notice is that the public is increasingly led to seek refuge in the legal system to ensure their fundamental and human rights in a country where democratic governance is practised. It is even more disturbing, as in the above case, to find the police as the violators.

Can we take pride in the fact that we are citizens of a democracy? Strangely, how silent our political leaders seem to be, who usually vociferously defend the voting rights of the public during election time. It is time that the government reversed this disastrous trend of callous disregard to the basic rights of the people, in the name of security. It is true that the government has the onerous task of protecting and safeguarding the people and their property, but any measures taken in this regard should not impinge on the freedom of the common man.

More effort must be put in to streamline state machinery and establish good governance at every level where the public is not compelled to resort to legal action, burdening the court system for matters that should have been resolved at bureaucratic level.

By Dinesh Peiris, Panadura

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