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CSOs: ‘Hate speech bill’ not justifiable in a democratic setting

CSOs: ‘Hate speech bill’ not justifiable in a democratic setting
February 26
17:46 2020

A coalition of civil society organisations has asked the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to advise the government against some “controversial bills” before the national assembly.

The coalition include Amnesty International Nigeria, Centre for Information Technology and Development, Girl Child Africa, Enough is Enough, Say No Campaign Nigeria, Spaces for Change and Yiaga Africa.

In a statement on Wednesday, the groups accused the government of attempting to close the democratic space.

According to them, the social media bill, hate speech bill and civil society regulatory commission bill will prevent people from exercising their constitutional rights.


“In addition to these bills, NGOs have come under serious attacks by the government for providing oversight on public governance and defending citizens’ rights,” the coalition said.

“We are of the firm view that the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill (‘Social Media Bill’) is not reasonably justifiable in a democratic society; even though the Government’s purpose may be legitimate and substantial, that purpose cannot be pursued by means that broadly stifle fundamental personal liberties.

“We strongly believe that the Bill contravenes extant constitutional provisions that guarantee right to freedom of expression. Restrictions that undermine the ability to receive and exchange information undermine the fundamental human rights provided in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and International treaties that Nigeria has agreed to be bound by.


“Therefore, as concerned citizens and groups, we call on the National Human Rights Commission to issue an advisory to the executive and legislature (national assembly) on the inconsistencies of such legislation with constitutionally guaranteed human rights and international human rights norms to which Nigeria is a state party; and

“Publish a report on the state of human rights promotion and protection in Nigeria.”

The “social media and hate speech bills” have generated public outcry since they were introduced by the national assembly.



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