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Sri Lanka: Ensure freedom of expression is protected

Graphic: Man holds mobile phone

The Commission has highlighted the need to ensure that freedom of expression, especially through social media, is better protected in the future.

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has asked the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC) to ensure that freedom of expression, especially through social media, can be better protected in the future.

In a letter to Austin Fernando, Secretary to the President and TRC Chairperson, the HRCSL Chairperson Dr Deepika Udagama said the Commission had received several complaints from the public regarding ongoing restrictions on social media despite sectarian violence in the Kandy District having been brought under control.

"The Commission recognizes the critical necessity to protect freedom of expression and the right to information as guaranteed by the Constitution of Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka's international human rights obligations. ln doing so, we recognize the need to strike the necessary balance between those rights and maintenance of public order and the protection of the rights of all," Dr Udagama said.

"While we are encouraged by media reports that TRC has taken steps to lift the restriction on social media as quickly as possible, we also wish to point out that any future policy regarding the regulation of social media to deal with hate speech must strike that necessary balance so that freedom of expression and the right to information are restricted only within the legal limits permitted by the Constitution and Sri Lanka's international human rights obligations in the larger public interest," she said.

"We wish to once again reiterate the urgent need to take legal action against those who are using social media to propagate communal hatred and incite sectarian violence under applicable laws, in particular under the ICCPR Act No. 56 of 2007."

Date: 15 March 2018

Source: Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka


Image credits

  1. Man holds mobile phone - lirneasia, Flickr; http://bit.ly/2pqQEQG