HC acknowledges ICCPR implementation in SL contrary to its intended purpose

Thursday, 6 July 2023 03:32 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • HC highlights importance of adhering to the Rabat Action Plan when implementing the Act 
  • Says Stand Up Comedian Nathasha Edirisooriya’s comments cannot be considered as inciting national, religious, or racial hatred
  • Orders Edirisooriya’s release on bail following no objections from AG

Colombo High Court Judge Aditya Patabendige yesterday noted that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act is currently being implemented in a manner contrary to its intended purpose of introduction by the legislature. 

Patabendige made the acknowledgement when considering the bail application of Stand Up Comedienne Nathasha Edirisooriya who was detained on 28 May under the act for making alleged derogatory comments about the Lord Buddha. 

Referring to the statements made by former Minister Rohitha Bogollagama in Parliament when introducing the Act, the Judge pointed out that the current implementation of the ICCPR Act deviates from the original purpose intended by the legislature. 

Patabendige emphasised the relevance of the Rabat Action Plan, introduced by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, in establishing an offence under Section 3(1) of the ICCPR Act. Delivering the order for her release on bail, he said Edirisooriya’s statement cannot be considered as statements inciting national, religious, or racial hatred, based on the guidelines outlined in the Rabat Action Plan. 

Accordingly, Edirisooriya was granted bail by the court after Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris, who appeared on behalf of the Attorney General, raised no objections against it. 

However, earlier in the day Colombo Fort Magistrate Thilina Gamage had ordered Edirisooriya to be further remanded until 12 July.