‘Hate speech should be banned’

The British delegation in discussion with National Integration and Reconciliation Ministry Secretary V. Sivagnanasothy at the Ministry.

"The hate speeches should be banned, but it should not erode the freedom of expression. To overcome this issue, the District Reconciliation Committee (DRCs) established through a Cabinet Paper submitted by the President with the support of the Asia Foundation and inter-religious leaders will discuss the issue on district level and pass on unresolved matters to the National Reconciliation Committee (NRCs)," a British High Commission delegation said.

The delegation led by Senior Research Analyst and Justice Consultant Paul Bentall, Regional Head of Stabilization Unit Eric Vincent and Political Officer Jovita Arulanantham visited National Integration and Reconciliation Ministry to discuss the progress Sri Lanka has made so far on reconciliation, integration and peace-building.

The delegation was briefed by Ministry Secretary V. Sivagnanasothy, who spoke on the various reconciliation interventions ranging from policy; National integration, schools programme peace journalism, institutionalizing national integration and curriculum development initiatives including incorporating virtues, values, ethical principles and comparative religious studies. The delegation was informed of the many housing programmes, road building projects and economic empowerment programmes as well.

While appreciating the steps taken, the delegation expressed reservation on the varying data on missing persons by the Maxwell Paranagama Commission, and the Darusman’s report.

The Ministry has initiated action to collect data from the District Secretariat based on actual reported cases. All 25 districts will be covered in collecting data on missing persons and it will not be restricted to one ethnic group, V.Sivagnanasothy said.

The delegation noted that the Northern Ireland experience of devolution has helped the United Kingdom (UK) maintain peace. Constitutional reforms in Sri Lanka can also significantly achieve reconciliation and peace.

The delegation appreciated the actions taken by the Sri Lankan Army to construct houses in Kankesanthurai (KKS) and commended the initiative on 50,000 brick and mortar houses which are socially acceptable to the community.

The delegation added the housing programme should be complimented with other social and economic infrastructure such as schools, temples, health centres, and roads. The selection of beneficiaries to be done in a fair and just manner and appeal boards should be in place to receive complaints and investigate into them, they pointed out.

They requested to pay special attention for the implementation capacity of the Northern and Eastern community. The Ministry officials informed that if districts have commitment, capacity, delivery, these concerns could be addressed. Some Districts are performing well despite constraints, the officials said.

The 2018 budget proposal incorporates many reconciliation focused interventions specifically related to the North and East. The 50,000 housing project, road rehabilitation, Myliddy fisheries harbour, Atchuvely industrial estate, rehabilitation economic centre in the Northern Province, Economically integrated ex- combatants and support for the disable women will contribute significantly to make the national integration a reality. 

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