Sri Lanka tells UNHRC progress made on Counter Terror Act

The Sri Lankan Government informed the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) today that progress has been made on a new Counter Terrorism Act.

The Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva, Ravinatha Aryasinha said that progress has been made in the drafting of a new Counter Terrorism legislation.

“We envisage a Counter Terrorism Act that conforms to human rights safeguards and other international standards and we expect the draft legislation to be gazetted for tabling in Parliament for consideration, once the established procedures including translation into local languages are completed, shortly,” he said,

Aryasinha was speaking when the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Report of Sri Lanka was adopted at the UNHRC in Geneva during the 37th annual session today.

Speaking further, Aryasinha said that the Cabinet of Ministers, on 6 March 2018, approved the formulation of legislation by the Legal Draftsman, for the establishment by law of an Office for Reparations.

He said that once the draft legislation with translations into local languages is finalised, the draft Bill is expected to be gazetted.

The Ambassador said that Sri Lanka has been and continues to engage actively with UN systems and procedures and across all agencies at all levels.

He also drew reference to the recent incidents that took place in Kandy targeting members of the Muslim community who he says represent an integral part of the pluralistic society of Sri Lanka.

“These cowardly acts instigated by some organised groups and individuals who have no place in the democratic, pluralistic society of our country. Such acts go against our shared vision of a Sri Lanka where equal rights and rule of law are guaranteed for all. We are determined to take action against all perpetrators of these incidents in accordance with the due process of the law. Victim compensation processes have already commenced; and arrests have been made as well,” he said.

The Ambassador said that as a result of the incidents where it was discovered that social media and messaging platforms were being used not only to incite and spread hate and false messages but also to organise attacks, the Government was compelled to impose temporary restrictions on the use of social media.

All these restrictions have now been lifted. Aryasinha says the Government, as a result of this experience, has now entered into active engagement with social media operators, particularly Facebook, to work on the prevention of hate speech. (Colombo Gazette)