UNHR Chief concerned over arrests in SL for expressing discontent over COVID-19 situ

4 June 2020 06:50 pm - 10     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet has expressed concern over alleged incidents of clampdown on freedom of expression including arrests of personnel for expressing discontent over COVID-19 situation in several Asia-Pacific countries including in Sri Lanka.

In a statement, Ms. Bachelet said a clampdown on freedom of expression in parts of the Asia-Pacific during the COVID-19 crisis is prevalent and that any action taken to stop the spread of false information must be proportionate.

She said arrests for expressing discontent or allegedly spreading false information through the press and social media, have been reported in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

“In Sri Lanka, the Acting Inspector General of Police threatened to arrest anyone who allegedly criticizes or highlights “minor shortcomings” of officials involved in the coronavirus response or who shares “fake” or “malicious” messages.

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka on April 25 wrote a letter to the police informing them that any arrest for the mere criticism of public officials or policies would be unconstitutional. A number of individuals have been arrested over posts in their Facebook pages,” High Commissioner Bachelet said.

She said the COVID-19 pandemic had seen a further tightening of censorship in several countries, along with the arbitrary arrest and detention of people critical of their Government’s response or for simply sharing information or views about the pandemic.

She said many countries in the region already have laws governing alleged “fake news” and online media that raise human rights concerns.

“These laws have been used in other contexts to deter legitimate speech, especially public debate, criticism of government policy and suppress freedom of expression. Measures should adhere to the principles of legality, necessity, proportionality, serve a legitimate public health objective and should be the “least intrusive” approach required to achieve that result,” she said. (Lahiru Pothmulla)

  Comments - 10

  • Sokrates Thursday, 04 June 2020 08:08 PM

    Very correct madam and Heil Gota.

    Mm Thursday, 04 June 2020 08:12 PM

    Are you talking through your backside ? Go look at the US

    Borat Thursday, 04 June 2020 09:39 PM

    Sri Lankan’s cannot accept truth . When you have dirt speck in the eye you leave that and correct others

    JASON Thursday, 04 June 2020 09:48 PM

    Well said...please look at what's happening in the US and make a noise about them first before pointing fingers and create unwanted accusation about Sri Lanka..why only Asia...Trump might stop funding you ???...haha

    Ari Thursday, 04 June 2020 08:36 PM

    UNHCR do you see what's happening in the US these days. How come you don't comment.

    A Thursday, 04 June 2020 09:03 PM

    Hey US is approved by

    Dolly K Thursday, 04 June 2020 09:29 PM

    Ms.Michelle Bachelet, kindly express your concern about the alleged "incidents of clampdown on freedom of expression" and go talk to uncle Sam and Donald T and stop talk from both sides of the mouth. You are disgrace to UNHR. Dolly

    Antony Jude Thursday, 04 June 2020 10:14 PM

    Srilanka is ruled and governed by military personnel. You can't expect democracy and human rights under Gota's government.

    dickie bird Thursday, 04 June 2020 10:19 PM

    Michele Bachelet just mind your business on SL focus on racism in the USA. Where are those Amensty Intl., HRW and ICG??? America is burning black getting murdered by Police, what are you doing Michele. Just need to say b*gger off.

    Gemba Thursday, 04 June 2020 10:52 PM

    If you lie you get thrown in the liar.

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