Sri Lankan President instructs to enforce law against extremist groups inciting racism

Source: Colombo Page

Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena has given instructions to the law enforcement agencies and security services to arrest those who incite racism and religious extremism in the country and take legal action against them.

President Sirisena has instructed the Inspector General of Police and Chiefs of Security Forces at the Security Council meeting held this week at the President's Official Residence in Colombo to take all, who incite racism, in to custody and produce before courts under the existing law.

Ministers Rajitha Senaratne, Patali Champika Ranawaka, Mano Ganesan, Sagala Ratnayake, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, the IGP and Chiefs of Security Forces attended the Security Council meeting, the Daily Mirror reported.

Minister Mano Ganesan has drawn the attention of the President to a statement made by the Buddhist Monk of Mangalarama Temple in Batticaloa recently and said that the statement had hurt the Tamil people.

Responding to this, the President has said that the monk was "talking a lot" after a former politician's visit to this temple.

The police had come under heavy criticism from citizen organizations for its inaction in response to Buddhist monk-led violent attacks on minority ethnic and religious communities.

During the incident where the Chief Incumbent of the Mangalaramaya Temple verbally assaulted a Tamil government official with extremely profane and abusive language in the presence of a uniformed police officer, the police officer just observed the attack without taking the necessary action.

During the meeting the President has also inquired about enacting new laws to enable actions against people who incite such racism.

Responding to the President, the Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe has informed that steps had already been taken to draft the law and pointed out that even under the existing provisions of the Penal Code, inciters of racism were liable for one year imprisonment.

Both Christian and Hindu Tamil groups have called on the government to bring to justice all those in violation of Sri Lanka's anti-discrimination and hate-speech laws, including Buddhist monks.

Meanwhile, State Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena has said that no extremist group will be allowed to instigate racism in the country.

Addressing an event at the Mangalaarama temple in Matara, the State Minister said some people held extremist views and the conflict that prevailed as a result of those views is over after losing thousands of lives. The people who help others to create another situation like that will be treated as terrorists. All steps will be taken to prevent terrorism, he said.

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