Sri Lanka’s Justice Minister, Ali Sabry, has announced plans for new legislation in Sri Lanka to curb speech on social media under claims of tackling “fake news”.
Speaking to the media, Sabry maintained that there must be limits on the freedoms that could be exercised and maintained that restrictions on speech should be in place with respects to “national security, reconciliation and development, refraining from destroying the name of the country and defaming individuals”.
Sabry further alleged that between 15 and 17 per cent of social media accounts in Sri Lanka are fake and maintained that measures such as the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act have been adopted in Singapore, Malaysia, and India.
These measures follow the widespread proscription of over a dozen Tamil and Muslim organisations and hundreds of individuals, whose personal information was released to the public. There has also been an escalation in detentions under Sri Lanka’s draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act which has seen 8 Muslims arrested in March alone and over 7 Tamils arrested since November. Last month two Tamils in Jaffna were arrested for allegedly “promoting terrorism” and promoting "terrorism-related activities" on their YouTube channel. This also follows the detention of high-profile Tamil officials in Jaffna and Kilinochchi.