Government withdraws amendment to Penal Code

Lakshman Kiriella (2)The Government has decided to withdraw the proposed amendment to the Penal Code following opposition raised by some Parliamentarians.

Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament today that as a result of the concerns raised the Government will not take the Bill for discussion next month.

Apart from the Parliamentarians who raised concerns over the Penal Code, local civil society were also not happy.

In a joint statement issued yesterday civil society expressed deep concerns about two Bills tabled in Parliament last Friday ostensibly to criminalize hate speech and the instigation of communal violence and disharmony.

One such Bill tabled is an amendment to the Penal Code which creates the new offence of “causing of or instigating acts of violence, hostility…” which is punishable by imprisonment of up to two years. The other Bill is an amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure which provides for the conditions necessary for the initiation of prosecutions for the new offence.

The new offence under the Penal Code is particularly problematic as it is a near verbatim reproduction of the language in Section 2(1) (h) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

The joint statement notes that the offence as provided in the Bill is overbroad and general, and is not a permissible restriction in relation to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution and by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Furthermore, the proposed amendment, if enacted, could lead to a culture of self-censorship and perpetuate a chilling effect on free speech.

The joint statement by the civil society organisations note that Section 2(1) (h) of the PTA was previously used to convict journalist J. S. Tissainayagam for his journalistic writing on alleged war crimes committed by government forces. (Colombo Gazette)

7 COMMENTS

  1. I am not a BBS fan, however if someone use common sense will understand the proposed amendment to Penal Code that does not fit in to a democratic society. People should be able to voice their opinion on issues that are critical to freedom of speech, opinion and positive criticism against corruption, anti social behavior, illegal activities similar to destruction of forest which are irreversible damage to the environment. There should be media freedom to disclose any event or activity that could be harmful to the country and people by any person or persons belongs to religious, ethnic or political groups.

  2. Hey Mr. Editor of CG! Don’t you have any common sense to publish a better photo of this man who said”ONEMA MODAYAKENEKUTA,SALLI NAYATA ERAGENA UDDA KARANTA PULUWANG ” KIYA KIYAPU HARATHA BOORUWAGE????

  3. Mr. Kirialla

    Your govt has legitimised the barbaric Gnanassara’ claims and granted him a licence to incite racial and religious violence
    What democracy or freedom of speech for this barbaric organisation.

    You will see very soon how the BBS will use this licence,

  4. If the proposed bill to amend the penal code went through the parliament a few months ago the public would not have known about illegal destruction of thousands of acres of Wilpathu national park to estgablish an ethnic colony by Minister Rishard Badurdeen.

  5. We have enough strong system to curb anti social behaviour or hatred ,so I do not know why the present state wasting time to unnecessary things . This bill can creat many unrest in the county ,. What ever happened that Buddhism should have the priority in the country .as it is our identity ,but it can be a pain to others . Which is unavoidable

  6. Civil society wanted these Laws, Now they do not want it.
    What are these civil Societies? Most of these civil societies have few elite limited members and not self funded. They are funded by some foreign Governments or NGO’s and dance to the tune of the funders. Can any reader name a pure locally grown Civil Society?

  7. GOVT NEED TO ENFORCE LAW TO BAN hate speech and the instigation of communal violence and disharmony.
    WITHOUT THIS HOW COULD A COUNTRY LIVE IN PEACE , SPECIALLY WITH BBS , WHO PUT THEIR NOSE INTO EVERY ASS

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