- Freedom of expression does not include licence to defame, vilify others
By Lakmal Sooriyagoda
Jerome Fernando arrested in connection with his controversial Sunday sermon was yesterday ordered to be remanded till December 13 after being produced before Court Fort Magistrate’s Court.
While refusing to enlarge the suspect on bail, Magistrate Thilina Gamage observed that the freedom of expression does not include the license to defame and vilify others.
Producing the suspect before Court, the CID moved court to remand the suspect till December 13, alleging the sermon delivered by Pastor Jerome Fernando on the face of it comes under section 3(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act for advocating national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to hostility or violence.
President’s Counsel Anura Meddegoda appearing for suspect Jerome Fernando moved Court to discharge his client from case arguing that the content of the sermon does not come under the ambit of section 3(1) of ICCPR Act.
He further moved court to release the suspect on bail on whatever bail condition the court may deem fit.
The Magistrate observed that in terms of section 3(4) of ICCPR Act the Magistrate has no power to grant bail unless there are exceptional circumstances.
The CID had commenced investigations against Pastor Jerome for insulting other religions and for the alleged commission of offenses under section 291B of the Penal Code and section 3(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act of 56 of 2007.
It is alleged that, on or about April 30, 2023, Jerome Fernando had addressed a large gathering of people and made numerous statements that are derogatory of other religions, specifically of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam.
- It is alleged that, on or about April 30, 2023, Jerome Fernando had addressed a large gathering of people and made numerous statements that are derogatory of other religions