Arrests over social media posts: Public Security Ministry defends CID
Special CID team has expertise to probe: Ministry Secratary
Says arrests linked to promoting terrorism
Police suppressing social media activities: BASL Ex-Co Member
Criticises lack of regulation for such arrests
By Yoshitha Perera
Denying allegations levelled against the Police over the recent arrests made for sharing certain posts on social media, Public Security Ministry Secretary (Retd.) Major General Jagath Alwis said that a special team from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has been appointed to handle matters relating to the same.
Speaking to The Sunday Morning, he said that the special team has the required expertise to conduct investigations into the arrests made over certain posts being shared on social media.
He added: “If there is any matter pertaining to the investigations, the CID will consult and obtain directives from the Attorney General’s (AG) Department.”
Responding to a query, Alwis said that certain persons are attempting to exaggerate the number of arrests made in relation to social media activities.
“However, the Police have arrested some individuals who have been trying to promote the LTTE – which is a banned organisation in the country – on their social media platforms,” he noted.
He further added that if any person is attempting to glorify terrorism or such organisations on their social media platforms, they would be arrested, and accordingly, the Police would obtain further directives from the AG’s Department in that regard.
Several attempts to contact Justice Minister Ali Sabry PC to obtain further insights into the matter, proved futile.
A statement issued by the Police on 8 June stated that anyone creating, publishing, sharing, forwarding, or aiding and abetting in the spread of fake news on social media will be considered to have committed an offence under provisions of the Police Ordinance, the Penal Code, the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act (PTA), the Computer Crime Act, and other laws.
The statement further mentioned that persons sharing falsehoods on social media could be arrested without a warrant.
Meanwhile, Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) Executive Committee Member Upul Kumarapperuma said that while the Constitution protects freedom of expression, there are certain limitations to exercising that right, which are included in the Constitution itself.
“In this matter, the Police cannot arrest people who criticise certain things on social media. The Police want to curtail (certain) activities, especially on Facebook and Twitter. There is no regulation (under which) to arrest these people, and the Police is only using a media statement. The people have the right to criticise the handling of certain activities by the current administration.”