Sri Lanka has raised concerns with regard to allegations made in a news release by the UN Human Rights High Commissioner on June 3 regarding a “clampdown” on the freedom of expression during the COVID-19 pandemic with a reference to Sri Lanka, the Foreign Relations Ministry (FRM) said.
It said in a statement that Acting Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Dayani Mendis, has raised concerns in a letter addressed to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.
“The letter states that it has become essential for all countries and Governments to take measures to counter misinformation and disinformation in the interest of protecting public health, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. These measures are also in line with the consensus resolution on COVID-19 response adopted on May 18 at the 73 World Health Assembly (WHA), which also, inter alia, calls on Member States to provide the population with reliable and comprehensive information on COVID-19 and take measures to counter misinformation and disinformation.”
Clarifying the content of the internal directive issued by Sri Lanka’s Acting Inspector General of Police on April 1, the letter highlights that the directive “does not carry instructions to arrest persons for mere criticism, or for sharing fake or malicious messages, except in the case of violations of the laws of relevance on; obstructing a public servant in discharge of his/her duty, wrongful restraint of a public servant, use of criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging his/her duty, disobeying a quarantine order and acts of disruption of public law & order and quarantine procedures using computer technology.”