Justice Minister acknowledges presence of deficiencies in OSA

Friday, 9 February 2024 00:06 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

 Justice, Prisons Affairs and Constitutional Reforms Minister

Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe


  • Says Govt. has observed certain shortcomings and is willing to make amendments
  • Requests opposition to propose amendments instead of calling for it to be scrapped entirely 
  • Claims Govt. enacted law in good faith and not to protect Govt. or President as claimed 

Justice, Prisons Affairs and Constitutional Reforms Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe in Parliament yesterday admitted that the recently enacted Online Safety Act has certain shortcomings and they have been observed by the Government. 

Accordingly, the Minister said the Government is willing to bring in the necessary amendments to the Act. 

The Minister emphasised that when the Supreme Court issues an order regarding legislation under consideration by Parliament, amendments beyond the scope of the subject matter cannot be proposed. “We can bring amendments within the scope of the subject matter, however,” he said. 

The Minister highlighted that once an Act is passed with the suggested amendments, not even the Supreme Court can challenge it.

“However, with the criticism levelled against this Act we have quite clearly said we are prepared to discuss with any relevant party and rectify any shortcomings in it. This act was brought not to protect a Government or a President,” he maintained. He said the Act was brought to help victims of Online crimes. 

In response, opposition MP Harsha de Silva pointed out that the Asia Internet Coalition maintains its stance that the law is unworkable, thus they are unwilling to cooperate with the police and other Government agencies due to the absence of a safe harbour provision in the law. He asked the Justice Minister about the Government’s strategy to facilitate this collaboration. 

Minister Rajapakshe stated that the Government introduced the new law in good faith and urged the opposition to suggest amendments to it instead of advocating for the complete abolition of the law.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa commended the Government for acknowledging the flaws in the Online Safety Act and called for a meeting of party leaders to address the shortcomings. Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardane said he had no objections to discussions among party leaders regarding the Act.