Media cautioned against inciting hate speech

The government yesterday requested everybody, including the media, to make sure they do not fan the flames of violence by inciting hate speech online on social media.

Government Information Director General Sudarshana Gunawardana said incitement of violence goes against the Constitution and the laws of the country.

 “All citizens, and especially media institutions, should ensure that they do not themselves incite violence or engage in hate speech in contravention of the laws of Sri Lanka, and that they do not publish such statements calculated to incite violence”, the statement said.

It is disturbing to note that statements inciting violence, especially targeted against particular communities, have been published or circulated on certain media, especially social media.

It should be noted that such incitement to violence is contrary to the fundamental duties (recognized by Article 28 of the Constitution) of all citizens to uphold and defend the

Constitution and the law; to further the national interest and to foster national unity; to preserve and protect public property; and to respect the rights and freedoms of others.

To make statements intended to incite violence and or engage in hate speech amounts to criminal conduct according to the laws of Sri Lanka and according to Section 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Act.The relevant section states that “No person shall propagate war or advocate national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence”.

The Penal Code also criminalises the abetment of an offence (section 100), and recognizes that instigation of an offence would amount to abetment. Thus instigation of acts of violence such as

causing hurt and causing hurt with a dangerous weapon, etc would amount to the abetment of such offences.

While the Constitution recognises (subject to the imposition of lawful restrictions) the freedom of speech and expression including publication, these rights must be exercised in a responsible manner, with (among others) due regard for the rights and freedoms of others.The freedom of expression must also be exercised in a manner which does not amount to an incitement to

violence or hate speech.

Therefore all citizens, and especially media institutions, should ensure that they do not themselves incite violence or engage in hate speech in contravention of the laws of Sri Lanka, and that they do not publish such statements calculated to incite violence as aforesaid.

 

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