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ECONOMYNEXT — Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers has approved a proposal to formulate a draft amendment bill to incorporate revisions to the controversial Online Safety Act.

A statement from the Government Information Department said on Tuesday February 13 that the proposed draft bill will based on “revisions recognised through further discussions with eminencies in the field who had forwarded with proposals for relevant amendments” (sic).

The statement said the provisions of the online security act are being implemented at present. There were media reports over the weekend of an arrest, citing a speech made by Minister of Public Security Tiran Alles, who claimed an individual had been arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) under the new law.

However, police spokesman DIG Nihal Thalduwa has denied this.

“No one has been arrested under the online safety act. We haven’t even appointed a commission yet,” Thalduwa told EconomyNext on Monday February 12.


Sri Lanka Police deny arrest under online safety law


“Since the amendments submitted at the committee sessions in the Parliament with regard to the said draft bill should be made in par with the decision of the Supreme Court, there had been no opportunity to introduce proposed amendments furnished by the eminencies in the field,” the statement said.

The legal draftsman has been directed to put together the draft amendment bill in this light, the statement added.

The enactment process of the Online Safety Act (OSA) has been called into question by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), which said the process raises serious questions on law-making and its impact on constitutional democracy.

Urging the government to replace the act with a law that “genuinely addresses” concerns on online safety, CPA said on February 07 that the process of drafting the OSA was shrouded in secrecy. The rushed manner of its passage raises questions as to the intentions of the government in enacting a law that has significant implications for fundamental rights and the rule of law in Sri Lanka, it said.

“CPA has previously commented on the substance and process followed with the Bill and challenged its constitutionality. In light of recent events surrounding the enactment of the OSA, CPA condemns the enactment of such a draconian law that can further limit freedom of speech and the right to dissent,” the organisation said.

Enactment process of Sri Lanka’s online safety act raises questions on law-making: CPA


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