August 19, 2022
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    Tough laws against false news and hate speech

    Laws are to be urgently toughened to crack down on false news distribution and to curb hate speech in a bid to reduce the current spate of conflict aggravating public messaging, the Government Information Department announced yesterday. Cabinet approval has been granted for the revision of the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code enabling swift and stringent legal action to be taken against those who engage in false news distribution and hate speech.

    The Parliamentary Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Security had requested the Ministry of Justice and Prison Reforms to make the necessary amendments which would enable legal action to be taken against those spreading false news and hate speech.Accordingly, an amendment proposal was submitted to Cabinet by the Acting Minister of Justice and Prison Reforms, Ranjith Maddumabandara. “Anyone found guilty of spreading false news or hate speech, could face a fine of up to Rs. 1 million or a five-year prison sentence or both,” sources said.

    Law and order authorities as well as civil society leaders have been increasingly concerned about the rising social tensions and worsening ‘hate speech’ messaging both on the internet as well in public statements by various groups in recent weeks following the shock suicide bombing attacks on Easter Sunday, April 21st.

    Aggravating these tensions have also been numerous news media reports that critics say fail to meet basic professional and legal standards of authenticity and reliability. With such public messaging, the law and order authorities are facing challenges in curbing public reactions and managing social tensions.

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