COLOMBO (News 1st); Amnesty International said it is concerned by the arrest of comedian Nathasha Edirisooriya.
"The right to freedom of expression applies to information and ideas of all kinds including those that may be deeply offensive. Sri Lankan authorities must ensure that all laws, policies and practices aimed at combatting advocacy of hatred are drafted and applied in a strict manner so that they do not lead to unjustified restrictions of freedom of expression of minorities," it said in a statement.
The Amnesty International South Asia, Regional Office said that Section 3(1) of the ICCPR Act, which introduces the ICCPR into domestic legislation, has been used time and time again to restrict freedom of expression. It prohibits advocacy of hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, violence or hostility.
"Advocacy of hatred is more than just the expression of ideas or opinions that are hateful towards members of a particular group, it requires a clear showing of intent to incite others to discriminate, be hostile toward, or commit violence against the group in question. When the expression fails to meet this test, even if it is shocking, offensive, or disturbing, it should be protected by the state. The ICCPR Act was enacted to introduce into domestic legislation the obligations that Sri Lanka committed to abide by after ratifying the human rights treaty. Ironically, the Sri Lankan authorities are using it instead as a tool of repression to target minorities. This must end," said the statement.
Nathasha Edirisooriya must be released and any pending charges against her must be dropped immediately, said the Amnesty International South Asia, Regional Office.