Colombo, March 18 (newsin.asia): Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena lifted the State of Emergency late on Saturday, immediately on his return from a visit to India and Japan.
Secretary to the President Austin Fernando said that the relevant gazette to this effect dated March 17, has also been issued.
The State of Emergency was imposed on March 6, in response to the anti-Muslim riots in Kandy district which had threatened to spread to other parts of the island.
The situation had been brought under control many days back, but the State of Emergency could not be lifted because the President was overseas, Fernando explaned.
Asked to comment on a report that Facebook had given no assurance that it would censor incendiary posts during its talks with Sri Lankan government on March 15, Fernando said that it is not true.
However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, he added and said that further action may have to be taken if Facebook fails to censor material at its end as promised.
Fernando added that Sri Lanka itself can do the filtering. It has the facility for it. It also has certain rights under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which can be invoked if need be.
But any kind of censorship could meet with political opposition and therefore, government will have to take into account possible domestic and international reactions.
However, government would monitor Facebook to see if the organization keeps to its claim that its tolerance of hateful material is zero, Fernando said.
The ban on Facebook and other social media came under flak with even a section of the government belonging to the United National Party (UNP) opposing it. The US and Australian envoys had tweeted against it. US Ambassador Atul Keshap said that the real culprit is not the social media but “hate filled people” who use the media.
German Chancellor’s Visit Postponed
The German Chancellor Angela Merkel was to visit Sri Lanka earlier this month but Germany postponed the visit citing the imposition of Emergency and the violence in Kandy district.
(he featured image at the top is that of Austin Fernando, Secretary to the President of Sri Lanka)