Sri Lanka introduces five-year jail term on hate speech, fake news post Easter Sunday attack

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Colombo, June 6: Sri Lankan government has said on Wednesday it was planning to introduce a five-year jail term for people caught while spreading fake news, including hate speech on social media, following a rush in online disinformation and vitriol after the deadliest Easter Sunday terror attacks.

According to Dawn news reports, the ministers’ cabinet approved the bill by the justice minister, which will be seeing offenders fined with one million rupees ($5,715), according to a statement of the government.

Though the definition of the two offenses was not clearly and immediately released, however, the government stated the panel code would be amended to announce the new penalties.

The recent move follows the government’s repeated allegations that social media platforms such as Whatsapp, Twitter, and Facebook have been used by several to spread hate online in the nation.

In March, Sri Lanka closed internet access in the region in order to prevent further violence, when the anti-Muslim crowd went on a rampage in the country’s central area, reportedly killing three people and damaging hundreds of mosques, vehicles, shops, and homes.

During the rampage, mobs made use of social media networks to organize attacks against the minorities groups.

The nation’s social network has also seen a rush in fake news reportedly after the Easter Sunday suicide bombing attacks in churches and hotels that claimed the lives of more than 250 people, including more than 500 injured.

A nine-day social media ban was introduced following the April 21 Easter Sunday consecutive suicide bombing attacks.

 

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