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Teacher deprived of free speech

2013 Oct 21

Teachers’ unions today vehemently criticised a decision made by the Education Ministry to take disciplinary action and fine a teacher who made a statement to the media concerning alleged sexual harassments she had faced.  

P. S. M. Palakatiya – a teacher from Mahanama College, Colombo was subjected to a disciplinary inquiry by the Education Ministry, following a statement she made to the media in November 2011, concerning  acts of corruption allegedly carried out in the school as well as an incident of sexual harassment she had allegedly had to face.

However, on September 30, as per the instructions of Education Ministry Secretary, Gotabhaya Jayaratne, Ms. Palakatiya was fined Rs. 30,000, deprived of a salary hike and transferred to another school as a result of her statement to the media.

“The teacher sought media assistance to shed light on the issues she was facing due to the Education Ministry’s inaction concerning her grievances. She was simply exercising the freedom of expression entitled to her by section 14 of the Constitution. This disciplinary action imposed on her by the Education Ministry is a clear violation of her right to expression,” Ceylon Teachers’ Union (CTU) General Secretary, Joseph Stalin said.

According to Mr. Stalin, Ms. Palakatiya has been charged of violating sections XLVII 6.5 and 6.1.4 of the Establishment Code, which restrict officials attached to the government sector from expressing views to the media without prior permission from his/her superiors and thereby ruling her action of making statements to the media, illegal.

“The Education Ministry only shed light on her grievance following the statement she made to the media. However, to this day, no action has been taken against any of the officials she held responsible in her complaints to the Ministry. Under such circumstances, the action taken by the Education Ministry has only further victimised the victim of the situation,” Mr. Stalin pointed out. (Lakna Paranamanna)

 

 

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