FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

Tough new laws against porn

The Justice Ministry will introduce tough legislation to strictly control the import, distribution, production, exhibiting, telecasting, printing or broadcasting of pornographic material in Sri Lanka, a senior official said today.   

Justice Ministry Secretary Suhada Gamlath said the new Act would be titled, ‘Obscene Publications Act of 2011’.

“There is a sharp increase in the use of pornographic material since the advent of the internet and new technology superhighways. Children are the most affected and child pornography has a huge global market and Sri Lanka is no exception. The new legislation is meant to arrest this alarming trend and protect our children and also to control the unrestricted access by the print and electronic media to be in conformity with our cultural, moral and religious values,” Mr. Gamlath said.

He said the production or making available or offers in any manner or the distribution, transmission or procuring child pornography using a computer system or possesses or retains child pornography in a computer or on a computer data storage medium, or exposes a child to sexually explicit material by means of a computer; shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding five hundred thousand rupees and to imprisonment of either description for a term not less than ten years.

Mr. Gamalath said the draft Act still under review was expected to effectively prohibit the publication, exhibition, print, telecast, broadcast or lets on hire or knowingly sells or distributes or in any manner introduces into circulation through any medium of communication – print or electronic – object or thing which is obscene or imports, exports, makes, produces, prints or knowingly transmits, transports or possesses or does any other act whatsoever with regard to any matter object or material which is obscene, for any purpose.

The new Act also prohibits advertising or authorising or permitting the introduction into any medium of communication any advertisement which could be considered obscene. It will also be an offence to employ or obtain the services of a person for an act of obscene or pornographic purpose, he said.

Those who violate the provisions under the new Act shall be guilty of an offence under this Act and shall, on conviction by the High Court be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years and a fine not less than twenty five thousand rupees or both.

In the event of second or subsequent conviction to imprisonment for a term which may extend to twenty years or to a fine not less than one hundred thousand rupees or to both such imprisonment and fine.

An offender who uses children for pornographic acts, imports or exports such, produces or distributes such material shall be on conviction by the High Court be liable to imprisonment for a term not less than two years and not exceeding ten years or to a fine not less than Rs.200,000 or both.

In the event of a second or subsequent conviction to imprisonment, the convict is liable for a prison term of 20 years and a fine not less than five hundred thousand rupees.

In the event of a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment for a term not less than two years and not exceeding twenty years and to a fine not less than Rs.500,000.

In case of an offence under Child pornography, the convict is liable to imprisonment of either description for a term not less than three years and not exceeding twenty years or to a fine not less than three hundred thousand rupees or to both such fine and imprisonment and in the event of a second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment for a term not less than three years and not exceeding twenty years and to a fine not less than five hundred thousand rupees.

Any person who contravenes the provisions of this Act shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding three hundred thousand rupees and to imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding five years.

The existing Obscene Publications Ordinance will be repealed with the enactment of this Act. (Sandun A. Jayasekera)

DM

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