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FR application filed against vaccination of children ‘without proper data’

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A Fundamental Rights Application was filed before the Supreme Court by Dr. Darini Rajasingham, Ranjit Seneviratne and Hiran Fernando against Keheliya Rambukwella – the Minister of Health, the NMRA, the Director General of Health Services. The primary concern is that children are a target for indiscriminate vaccination in the absence of proper data, inasmuch as all Covid 19 vaccines have only received Emergency Use Authorisation and without the rigours of full clinical trials the vaccines have not been adequately tested for safety or efficacy, especially in children. Moreover, clinical trial data has also not been disclosed to the public for an informed choice to be made.

The Petitioners also urge that vaccine mandates are repugnant to bodily autonomy and the right to self-determine what may or may not be injected. Voluntary consent, being consent that is meaningful, valid and informed, is essential.

The DGHS in his Affidavit to the Supreme Court submits that the vaccination programme of the State is not mandatory and that the vaccine has been administered whilst preserving the autonomy and right to self-determine the acceptance of vaccines. He further submitted that the Ministry of Health has not issued any law, regulation or communication mandating vaccination.

The Petitioners in their Counter Objection have submitted that the Minister of Health was reported in the press as saying that receiving two doses of the vaccine will be mandatory from next year and that there is no barrier to making the vaccination certificate mandatory when visiting public places. The Petitioners also highlight that the Pfizer trials were not carried out on South Asian populations living in South Asia with no evidence of vaccine trials done in Asia.

When the matter was taken up before the Supreme Court comprising Thurairajah PC J., Shiran Gooneratne J. and Wengappuli J., on December 15, 2021 the Court inquired from the Attorney General as to the final authority in whom the responsibility for vaccinations rest. Viveka Siriwardene PC. ASG, representing the Respondents informed the Supreme Court that the DGHS is in charge of the entire vaccination programme and will be answerable for all activities of the Government. The Court also observed that the DGHS’ Affidavit stated that vaccination will not be mandatory. The Court also went on to observe and request that to avoid confusion it is preferable for the DGHS to make all communications on behalf of the State and that any person making a statement or communique without the approval of the DGHS will be responsible for the same. The Court also recorded that for the purpose of clarification it has clarified that the vaccination is not mandatory.

The case will now be taken up on 11.01.2022. Dr. K. Kanag-Isvaran PC with Nigel Bartholomeusz, Dilshani Wijayawardana and Laskhmanan Jeyakumar instructed by Moahan Balendra appeared for the Petitioners. Viveka Siriwardana PC, ASG, with Shiloma David, SC, appeared for the Minister of Health, DGHS, NMRA and the AG.



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BASL urges President to de-escalate tensions in different parts of country

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The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has called upon President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to instruct the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of tensions in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by the public.”

 “Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint”, the BASL has said in a media statement.

 “We also call upon you to ensure that steps are taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.”

The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police.

 The armed forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

Full text of the BASL letter to the President:

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) expresses its gravest concerns at the current situation at fuel stations throughout the country and the reports of several incidents of conflicts between civilians and members of the police force and the armed forces at fuel stations. There has been video footage of civilians being assaulted by personnel of the armed forces and the police, the latest being of a civilian being kicked by an Army officer at a fuel station. There have also been situations of the police and Army opening fire into the air to contain the crowd.

Your Excellency is no doubt aware that thousands of desperate civilians are waiting in queues at hundreds of fuel stations in the country. The queues are kilometres long. The tension at the fuel stations have arisen from this desperation for which there is no immediate solution in sight.

The BASL wishes to warn Your Excellency of the imminent dangers this situation could give rise to. The present unrest could result in a conflagration between civilians and members of the armed forces or the police. Some years ago, confrontations between members of the public and the armed forces resulted in the deaths of civilians. Such incidents between the members of the armed forces or the police and the civilians will discredit Sri Lanka’s armed forces and the police.

We call upon Your Excellency to take all necessary steps to give instructions to the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of the situation in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by public. Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint. We also call upon you to ensure that steps be taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.

The Sri Lanka Army and other service personnel must be deployed only in very limited circumstances as contemplated in the Criminal Procedure Code. The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police. The Armed Forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

We trust that this will receive the immediate attention of the Government as to do otherwise may otherwise result in unprecedented turmoil and harm.

The BASL believes that the ultimate solution to the situation at fuel stations is to be transparent with the public and to ensure an equitable and effective system of fuel distribution throughout the country.

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SC orders AG to submit report on fuel purchases and distribution

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By A.J.A. Abeynayake

A three-member Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices Vijith Malalgoda, Mahinda Samayawardena and Arjuna Obeysekera yesterday ordered the Attorney General to submit a report on fuel purchases, the distribution thereof and the sectors to be provided with fuel on a priority basis.

The Supreme Court made the order after considering two fundamental rights petitions presented by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

The BASL has requested the Supreme Court to direct the Cabinet of Ministers to consult all stakeholders and independent experts to formulate and implement the necessary policies, and to provide concessions in relation to the prices of essential goods and services to the people including LP gas, fuel, electricity, milk powder, medicines and food.

The petitions were filed by the President of the BASL Saliya Pieris PC, Deputy President Anura Meddegoda PC, former Secretary Rajeev Amarasuriya, Treasurer Rajindh Perera and the Assistant Secretary Pasindu Silva.

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A/L may be delayed by one month

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Education Minister Sushil Premajayantha told Parliament yesterday that although it had been scheduled to hold the G.C.E. A/L Examination 2022 in November this year, it could be further delayed by another month.

Responding to a question by MP Shantha Bandara, the Minister said: “The examination should be held at least after three months of releasing the results of the previous A/L exam because the students who need to sit it again should have enough time to prepare,” the Minister said.

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