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TISL urges govt to lift ban on social media

Transparency International Sri Lanka yesterday urged the government to lift the ban on social media.

Speaking on the subject, TISL Executive Director Asoka Obeyesekere noted, "The government must act immediately to remove the ban on social media and instead focus on holding those responsible for hate speech and inciting violence to account under the ICCPR Act. Instead of blocking social media, the government should be using it as a communication tool."

“Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) is alarmed by the continued blocking of social media and other communication tools on the orders of the government and calls on the government to immediately reinstate access,” the anti-corruption watchdog said in a statement. “In spite of reassurances that the ban will be lifted by the end of the week, the prevailing discussion on moves to regulate social media platforms also provides cause for concern. While the move may have been well-intentioned, continuing to prevent the free flow of information is not a means by which to address deficiencies in maintaining law and order.”

“Such concerns can be addressed by ensuring the enforcement of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act, which strictly prohibits advocacy on ‘national, racial or religious hatred’ and makes it a non-bailable offence. The present blocking of social media amounts to an arbitrary action on a wide group of citizens, when there seems to be an unwillingness to action the law against those who create hate speech and instigate racial tension. Targeting the individuals involved in hate speech, as opposed to social media platforms, will result in a just and equitable outcome,” TISL said.