Police establish unit to monitor social media

Saturday, 18 May 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • New unit to track online hate speech 
  • Anyone found disseminating material to disrupt the peace to be handed over to CID 
  • Police say closely monitoring situation after anti-communal riots
  • Two men suspected of having links to Zaharan arrested from Horowpathana 
  • Social media restrictions lifted

A special unit to monitor social media posts that could disrupt the peace has been established at Police headquarters with disseminators of hate speech to be handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), the Police said in a statement yesterday. 

Police Spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera, in his customary statement, said the unit will monitor social media sites around the clock and track down anyone who is posting statements or sharing material that could potentially disrupt the peace. 

He also said the Police will take steps to hold such people accountable under the law. 

“This unit has already been established. If any post that could disrupt the peace is found by this unit, they will track down the person or organisation responsible, and after a short investigation, will hand them over to the CID. All measures have already been taken in this regard,” Gunasekera said. 

Reiterating that peace has been established countrywide, the Police Spokesman nonetheless cautioned anyone against disrupting the peace and resorting to anti-communal violence. 

“Even though curfew has been lifted, we are monitoring the situation closely and will take immediate action if anyone or any organisation is found to be attempting to disrupt the peace,” he added. 

Meanwhile two suspects have been arrested in Horowpathana on suspicion of having close relations with the leader of National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) Zahran Hashim. The Special Task Force in Horowpathana made the arrest on Thursday, the Police Media Spokesman’s Office said.

The suspects have been identified as Noor Mohamed Addara Sul and Abdul Jabar Nijam, residents of Kapugollewa, Horowpathana. The Police have received information that they have had direct ties with the NTJ and its leader Mohamed Zahran Hashim, who carried out the suicide attack in Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo on Easter Sunday.

The suspects are to be produced before the Kebithigollewa Magistrate court today.

The Government last night removed the temporary restrictions imposed on social media platforms and messaging apps. Accordingly, the public will be able to access Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber and other social media apps.

The Government temporarily blocked the social networking sites Facebook, WhatsApp and Viber on 13 May to quell the tense situation that arose after a Facebook post sparked anti-Muslim riots.