President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) Saliya Pieris has said that freedom of speech is a right and it can be restricted by the law only.
He was speaking at a seminar organized by the Media Law Forum at the BMICH in Colombo yesterday (18) to discuss laws affecting the field of media.
If freedom of speech is unduly restricted, new laws can be implemented and can be referred to civil and criminal cases, said Pieris.
Senior journalists Dr. Ranga Kalansooriya, Mandana Ismail Abeywickrama and Viranjana Herath, and president’s counsel Jagath Wickremanayake too, addressed the event.
Speaking further, the BASL president said,
“The law and freedom of speech do not need to be controlled. Freedom of speech is our sovereign right. If freedom of speech is violated, all other rights are violated. However, there are limits to freedom of speech and they are made limited by the law. Incitement to violence can be prevented. It can only be acted upon by the law.”
“Police cannot prevent expressing ideas. It can only be implemented if there is a law for it. If the general limits are violated due to the speech, it can be restricted or stopped. Investigating someone in order to harass him is wrong. There are lawsuits to protect civil speech. For that you can file new fundamental rights cases and criminal cases.”
“Freedom of expression has some limitations. Inciting someone to commit crimes is also wrong. Preventing peaceful expression is a crime. It can become a serious problem in the future. Regarding the freedom of speech, new actions can be taken legally, civil and criminal cases can be filed,” he said.
Media analyst and former Director General of Information of the Department of Government Information Dr. Ranga Kalansuriya also addressed the forum.