Colombo: Sri Lanka’s government will introduce five-year jail terms for those caught spreading fake news and hate speech on social media, the government said Wednesday, following a surge in online vitriol and disinformation after the Easter suicide attacks. The cabinet of ministers approved a proposal by the acting justice minister, which will also see offenders fined one million rupees (USD 5,715), the government said in a statement. It did not immediately release a definition of the two offences, but said the penal code will be amended to introduce the new penalties. Also Read – ‘Hong Kong won’t rule out Chinese help over protests’The move follows repeated government allegations that platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp have been used to spread online hate, in a country where ethnic divisions still linger after decades of war. Sri Lanka shut down internet access in March last year to prevent further violence when anti-Muslim mobs went on the rampage in the island nation’s central region, killing three people and destroying hundreds of homes, shops, vehicles and mosques. Also Read – Pak Army chief accompanies Imran at key meetings in ChinaDuring the violence, mobs used social media platforms to organise attacks against minority groups. Sri Lankan social networks also saw a surge in fake news after the Easter suicide bombings that left 258 people dead and nearly 500 wounded. A nine-day ban on platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and WhatsApp was introduced following the Islamic State-claimed attacks on three churches and three hotels on April 21.
Golfer Brooke Henderson has been named the Canadian Press female athlete of the year after winning the Bobbie Rosenfield Award.The 21-year-old from Smiths Falls, Ont. has won the award in three of the last four years. She picked up 30 of 54 votes (55.6 per cent) in a poll of broadcasters and editors from across the country.Figure skater Kaetlyn Osmond and short-track speedskater Kim Boutin were tied for second with 10 votes apiece.Henderson became the first Canadian to win the CP Women’s Open since Jocelyne Bourassa in 1973. She won twice on the LPGA Tour last season and finished ninth in the world rankings.