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Further Legal Scrutiny for Controversial Online Safety Bill Before Enactment

Following its approval in Parliament on January 24th, the contentious Online Safety Bill is set to undergo additional legal examination before officially becoming law.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena declared that the Attorney General’s Department will assess whether all amendments introduced during the legislative process align with the directives of the Supreme Court. This careful examination is crucial to ensure the proper implementation of changes made to the bill.

The Speaker emphasized that this thorough scrutiny is a standard procedure for “every bill” by the Attorney General’s office, aiming to uphold legal protocols and rectify any potential shortcomings.

In tandem with the Attorney General’s review, a team of parliamentary officials will conduct a secondary assessment. Only after receiving confirmation from the Attorney General and ensuring that all legal requirements are met will the Speaker proceed to sign and finalize the bill.

The bill’s journey through Parliament was marked by close contention. The Second Reading garnered approval with a majority of 46 votes, with 108 in favor and 62 against. The Third Reading of the Bill passed without a formal vote.

The Online Safety Bill, designed to regulate online content in Sri Lanka, has faced criticism for its potential to lead to censorship and the suppression of free speech, adding complexity to its passage and implementation.

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