Sri Lanka Brief
NewsHate Speech Bill: Ruki Fernando Complaints to HRCSL

Hate Speech Bill: Ruki Fernando Complaints to HRCSL

by
Ruki Fernando, A prominent human rights defender has written to Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka on imminent violation of his  rights guaranteed under article 14 (1) (a) of the constitution, through some provisions in the alleged two bills tabled by the Minister of Justice on 11 December 2015, to bring hate speech law. One provision appears to be almost copy and paste from PTA – article 2(1)(h), in a context that the government has committed to reform and repeal the PTA.
His letter to HTCSL is reproduced below:
14th December 2015
The Secretary
HRCSL
Colombo 
Dear Sir / Madam, 
I’m writing to make an urgent complaint about imminent violation of my rights guaranteed under article 14 (1) (a) of the constitution, through some provisions in the alleged two bills tabled by the Minister of Justice on 11 December 2015, to bring hate speech law. One provision appears to be almost copy and paste from PTA – article 2(1)(h), in a context that the government has committed to reform and repeal the PTA. 
The two bills are attached 
My concern is also in understanding that this a provision used to convict journalist J.S. Tissainayagam, and arrest and detain opposition politician Azath Sally, both under section 2(1)(h) of the PTA. 
My fear of further curtailment of my freedom of expression and opinion and publication rights also comes due to the fact that very similar language has been used in ongoing court order against me, obtained at request of TID, after my release under PTA, in March 2014 – which essentially limits my freedom of expression – my court order copy is at https://rukiiiii.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/court-order-restricting-freedom-of-expression-on-ruki-20march2014.pdf 
Such provisions were also used to arrest my colleague and fellow human rights defender (HRD), Rev. Fr. Praveen Mahesan in March 2014. The arrest receipt is at https://rukiiiii.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/court-order-restricting-freedom-of-expression-on-ruki-20march2014.pdf
Both our cases are still pending and in my case, the TID / AG has refused to close the case or remove the gag order, despite written submissions to that effect by my lawyers in 2014 and 2015
As I and some other HRDs see it, there is no need to bring this law in, as there’s provision under ICCPR Act, 3(1) – what is needed is action to prosecute cases where there is ample evidence; not new laws replicating the PTA, which has been used in past and still used (against me) to clamp down on dissent. 
When emergency regulations were withdrawn in 2011, provisions were exported to more permanent regulations under the PTA, which unlike ER, is not even subject to parliamentary review. 
I also request the HRCSL to consider this law as one that will negatively affect my work as an HRD and writer (and many others expressing legitimate dissent). I see fundamental freedoms guaranteed under the fundamental rights chapter, based on international human rights standards and norms, as key to function as an HRD and writer. 
I kindly request the HRCSL to take this matter up urgently, as a personal complaint as well as matter of public interest, and provide directives and recommendations to the government and also to educate the public. 
Thanks 
Ruki Fernando
Advisor
INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre (www.ihrdc.wordpress.com)
Back to Top