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Members appointed to PSC for communal and ethnic harmony

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By Skandha Gunasekara

The members of the Parliamentary Select Committee to make recommendations on ensuring communal and ethnic harmony were appointed during last week’s parliamentary sessions. 

Accordingly, Parliament Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri in Parliament last Friday announced that Speaker Karu Jayasuriya would be heading the Parliamentary Select Committee.

The committee also includes Deputy Speaker Kumarasiri, Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan along with MPs Rauff Hakeem, D.M. Swaminathan, Susil Premajayantha, Dinesh Gunawardena, C.B. Ratnayake, Vjitha Herath, Douglas Devananda, Selvam Adaikkalanathan, Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, Gayantha Karunathilaka, Mano Ganesan, Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Ali Zahir Mawlana, John Amaratunga, Thalatha Atukorale and Ranjith Madduma Bandara. 

The Select Committee was appointed following a motion which was signed and presented to Parliament by 18 MPs including MPs Ananda Kumarasiri, Lakshman Kiriella, Karunathilaka, Thalatha Atukorale, Ruwan Wijewardene, Velu Kumar, Bandara, M.A. Sumanthiran, Adaikkalanathan, Douglas Devananda, D.M. Swaminathan, Lucky Jayawardana, Hakeem, Dr. Rajapakshe, Ganesan, Rajavarothiam Sampanthan, A.D. Susil Premajayantha and John Amaratunga. 

The motion was passed in Parliament last Thursday (6) and the Committee was appointed on Friday (7). The motion points out the recent communal unrest that occurred in the Kandy District earlier this year and also mentions the ethnic violence that took place in the Beruwala District in 2014.

According to the motion, the Select Committee is tasked with studying and giving recommendations on “preventing the propagation of defamatory opinions/opinions that undermine national harmony or engagement in such activities and the necessity of taking firm legal action against individuals who engage in such activities; i.e. to discuss and decide on the suitability of including hate speech as a crime in the Penal Code.”

The motion also states that the “Committee will submit its report within six months of its first sitting or such other or further time period as Parliament may grant.”

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