Friday, 07 January 2022 15:32

Combatting Hate Speech at Community Level

Under NPC’s Technical Assistance to Justice Institutions in Sri Lanka project, 100,000 face masks were distributed in 25 districts to people facing economic hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic with the message “No hate speech”. The masks served the dual purpose of reducing the chances of infection and carrying the message that hate speech should be prevented. They were distributed to government officers and to children in rural schools in collaboration of District Coordinators of the project and members of the Local Inter Religious Committee and District Inter Religious Committee.

Two campaigns on prevention of hate speech were conducted in the Kegalle and Monaragala Districts. The campaign in Kegalle, which reached more than 500 people, targeted workers in the estate sector who are a marginalised community. The campaign was conducted to educate them on human rights and on the adverse effects of hate speech. As religious leaders and school children play a pivotal role in society, the campaign began from the kovil in the centre of the estate and went on to the schools. Three-wheel drivers pasted stickers on their vehicles. The participants were given bookmarks, cards, stickers and workbooks on the prevention of hate speech.

The Monaragala District campaign targeted 30 government officers in Kataragama. The participants were told about the sociological framework of hate speech, hate speech laws, media literacy and mindful social media engagement. Government officers received 240 face masks.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, children are involved in online education. This does more harm than good as social media and internet spread hatred and fake news. Abuse of children and women is increasing. This campaign is a good initiative to discuss remedies and to learn about the topic,” said Mr. R. M. Thilakarathne, Child Rights Promotion Officer and lecturer of National Youth Services Council.

“To prevent hate speech, from pre-school to tertiary education, a child should be taught to be good mannered and compassionate with activities to encourage the children in good behaviour,” Ms. S. Jayani Wickremasinghe, a Community Service Officer, said.