Legal action can be taken for statements made on social media – Justice Minister

(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reform Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe says that even if the right to practice a religion of their choice exists, no one has the right to disrespect the religion of others.

The Minister also said that even though social media cannot be controlled, legal action can be taken for the statements made on them.

He expressed these views at a special press conference held yesterday(30) at the Ministry of Justice Auditorium.

The Minister of Justice, expressing his views further said as a country with multi-lingual, multi-national, multi-religious people, harmony is very important.

“Article 14 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression. But the constitution clearly states in which way that freedom should be used. It has been stated in the constitution itself that speech and expression of opinion should be used in such a way as not to harm national and religious unity. No one has the right to express opinions that divide people.”

The Minister said all citizens should act not to harm other religions and If there are people who disturb religious harmony, the law will be enforced.

“All Sri Lankan people are kindly requested not to misuse the media. Social media should be used in a way that is beneficial to the society. Therefore, do not act in a way that is disrespectful to the religions,” the Minister said adding that doing such activities will disrupt people’s lives.

The Minister of Justice, commenting further in response to the questions raised by the journalists, said It has been revealed that the current state of anti-religious and hate speech is planned and organized.

“Those who destroy harmony among the people are unnecessarily given publicity through some major media. So don’t support those who are prominent on social media who are destroying the religious national unity. There is information that these groups are being supported by foreign countries.”

Speaking about a Broadcasting Authority Act to be introduced, the Minister said the Act will suppress the media or social media.

“This bill has been prepared to support the work of the media. We will discuss this bill with all the media in the future. It is wrong to publish hate speech in whatever media, whether it is electronic media, newspapers, Tik Tok, or Face book. But the government cannot control social media. Legal action can be taken in relation to hateful comments made through social media.”

“If this continues, the people may resort to controlling certain social media. It should be emphasized that the new Broadcasting Authority Bill is not brought to control the media,” the Minister of Justice further said adding that the government cannot make laws to control social media.

State Minister of Justice and Prison Affairs Anuradha Jayaratne also joined this news conference.

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