Sri Lanka raises concern over OHCHR allegations | Daily News


Sri Lanka raises concern over OHCHR allegations

Sri Lanka’s acting Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva in a letter addressed to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has asked the organization to be sensitive to the challenges faced by Sri Lanka after the OHCHR alleged there was a clampdown on freedom of expression during the COVID-19 crisis.

The letter highlights that it had become essential to curb the spread of false or misleading information that have harmed or would have the potential to affect all sections of society during the pandemic. The letter cites that these measures are in line with the COVID-19 response resolution adopted on May 18 this year at the 73rd World Health Assembly which calls on its members to provide the population with reliable and comprehensive information on COVID-19 and to take measures to counter misinformation and disinformation.

The Acting permanent representative clarifying the internal directive issued by the Acting Inspector General of Police stated that the letter dated April 1, 2020 does not carry instructions to arrest persons for mere criticism, or for sharing fake or malicious messages except in the case of violations of laws of relevance, obstructing a public servant in discharge of his/her duty, wrongful restraint of public servant, use of criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of his/her duty, disobeying quarantine order, and acts of disruption of public law and order and quarantine procedures using computer technology.

In her letter the representative reiterates that the government has for several months been engaged in protecting the health and safety of its population from COVID-19 amidst a multitude of challenges. It observed that the “success of the ongoing efforts of the government, which were also commended by the World Health Organization, enabled continuing this highly contagious disease and protecting the public, especially the vulnerable segments of the society”.

While reiterating Sri Lanka’s commitment to the protecting and promotion of human rights in terms of the constitution of Sri Lanka, the representative noted that the government urges the OHCHR to be sensitive of the above unprecedented challenges faced by countries and to engage in a spirit of co-operation.

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