SLASSCOM’s CEO Connect with Sri Lanka Unites, a forum for discussing current issues with special attention towards hate speech and the effects and aftermath of the Easter Sunday attacks, took place on the 19th of June 2019 at the Kynsey Room, Jetwing Colombo 07. The event was graced by the presence of the State Minister of Defense & Mass Media Hon. Ruwan Wijewardene, former Captain, Sri Lanka Cricket Team Mahela Jayawardena, Svein Olaf founder Anzyz Technologies, joined by Prashan De Visser, President and Founder of Global Unites and Jeevan Gnanam, Chairman SLASSCOM.

The main objective of this CEO Connect was creating awareness of the need for abolishing and debunking hate speech that ensued particularly after the Easter Sunday Attacks, especially within the corporate and political world. Hate speech, a statement intended to demean and brutalize another or the use of cruel and derogatory language or gestures on the basis of real or alleged membership in a social group, regularly attacks a person or a group on the basis of protected attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, national origin, disability, orientation, or gender identity.

“SLASSCOM is delighted to bring about this positive forum and space to spread awareness on the need to abolish hate speech and other significant social challenges. Together with Sri Lanka Unites, we hope to ensure the safety of our country by abolishing the condemnable acts happening within it. It is a privilege to step forward and raise the attentiveness of business leaders and across SLASSCOM member companies in order to create a more secure environment within the nation”, said Jeevan Gnanam, Chairman, SLASSCOM.

SLASSCOM, as the chamber for the IT/BPM industry, Sri Lanka’s fifth-largest export earner, believes it is important to both educate and instill the values of tolerance and diversity in the work environment. The Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka sparked an alarming amount of hate speech which disrespected certain ethnicities, races, and religions. This also had a cascading effect on the corporate world and in some instances even relationships within the work environment. SLASSCOM recognized this as an important opportunity to educate Sri Lankan corporations within the ICT sector on how to respond during these times of crisis.

“At Sri Lanka Unites, we believe in creating a generation of peacebuilders, elevating the awareness of such problems in order to build a greater and more developed security and safety within the world. Through Sri Lanka Unites, passing on this message to corporations is a great stepping stone to creating responsiveness to the public, as they are pioneered by many influential people to the society. We are dedicated to observing arising problems and providing respective solutions to them, and we believe that in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday Attacks, there were many such conflicts and we work step by step, using initiatives such as this, to provide solutions which will consequently lead to coexisting in a peaceful Sri Lanka. We are glad to see SLASSCOM engage with us in taking this message to their member companies,” commented Prashan De Visser, President, and Founder of Global Unites.

Svein Olaf of Anzyz Technologies presented an artificial intelligence (AI) based proof of concept to identify and tag hate speech content on social media. This self-learning software is able to both understand the context and sensitivity of a post whether it is in English, Sinhala or Tamil, and flag it for moderation. This tool will provide a sustainable means to combat hate speech.

SLASSCOM acts as the catalyst of growth of the Sri Lankan Knowledge and Innovation industry by facilitating trade and business, propagation of education and employment, encouragement of research and innovation, and by supporting the creation of a progressive national policy framework for the knowledge solutions industry. Furthermore, SLASSCOM continuously engages with its future workforce via its outreach activities in schools and universities across Sri Lanka.