SJB not accepting Online Safety Bill which restricts media freedom as legislation duly passed: Eran

Eran Wickramaratne said that the main opposition, Samagi Jana Balawega, did not accept the legislation on Online Safety Act as passed in Parliament as it was processed without following due process of passing a bill in the parliament.

Therefore we urge the government to cancel this piece of legislation on Online safety Bill which is inimical to freedom of speech by individuals, media and the civil society and instead bring a new bill. He also accused the government of violating democracy and heading towards authoritative direction.

Further speaking at the press conference held at Colombo Sunday at the office of the Leader of Opposition said that the government willfully forwarded this bill to the Oversight Committee on Youth Affairs, instead of forwarding it to the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Justice Ministry.

The MP emphasized that it cannot be accepted that this bill was passed
because the government has indirectly passed this bill without taking the report to be obtained from the relevant oversight committee first.

Eran Wickramaratne requested the government to cancel the approved draft on the online Safety Act and submit another draft for due process of approval as determined by the Supreme Court as well.

Wickramaratne accused the government of violating democracy and moving towards a dictatorial direction through those processes.

The police is implementing a program called "Yukthiya" to apprehend people involved in drug business. It is essential to trap those who use drugs and direct them to a method that can rehabilitate them. And those involved in drug trafficking must be punished. There is no argument about this goal of the government, but like the goal, the method is also very important.

It is reported all over the country that police officers in civvies go to drug raids even in houses where there are only women. Wickramaratne stressed that it is mandatory to do these things through judicial procedures according to the law.

This government brings various bills to the parliament from time to time under the guise of combatting corruption and crime. Through this, it seems that a system is being developed outside of democracy. The Online Security Act was suddenly brought and passed recently, the day before the prorogation of Parliament.

This government brings various bills to the parliament from time to time ostensibly to fight corruption and crime. Through this, it seems that a system is being developed outside democracy. The Online Safety Act was recently suddenly brought and passed the day before the prorogation of the parliamentary term.

This was quickly adopted amid national and international criticism, including the main opposition, knowing that it was flawed. When this draft of 57 articles was challenged before the court, the Supreme Court determined that 31 articles should be amended as they are inconsistence with the Constitution.

The fact that the Cabinet of Ministers has decided to amend this Act within a week of its adoption, contrary to the norms to be followed when passing a draft, is something that has never happened in this country.

This is a dangerous law that restricts the freedom of individuals, media and civil society. The international covenant confirming civil and political rights has been accepted as a law in this country as well. That law is also violated by this new act.

If a report published by anyone is said to be wrong, it become a criminal offense under this new act. Even if someone writes a lie, the police will be empowered to treat it as a criminal offence.

Accordingly, this seems to be a very onerous rule. Here someone published that lie and the middlemen also become guilty of this crime. That is, if it
is posted on a social media such as Facebook or LinkedIn, the police will be
empowered to act according to the law, considering those social media
organizations as accomplices to this crime.

Eran Wickramaratne said that through this, an obstacle to the spread of the digital market system, which is essential for the technology and businesses of this country, cannot be prevented.

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