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‘Hate speech bill inimical to press freedom, free expression’

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The International Press Institute (IPI) has declared that the Hate Speech Bill currently being debated at the National Assembly is inimical to press freedom and fundamental right to free expression.

IPI, a body of global network of editors, publishers, media executives, communication scholars and experts in the communication industry stated this yesterday in a statement.

It argued that media practitioners understand the implications of any law with contentious provisions for free speech, press freedom, media independence, safety of journalists and unrestricted operations of media businesses.“We wish to state that IPI does not in any way support the peddling of hate speech, fake News and deliberate misinformation through any social or conventional media platform.

“We are aware that all the aforementioned are usually the preserve of quacks and non-professionals, who have no regard for the implications that such acts would have for our polity and for national peace and security.“But we are decidedly opposed to laws with prescription of capital punishment and any other stiff and dehumanising penalties for such abuse of the media space,” the statement reads.

The group said as responsible leaders of journalism, it appeals to all stakeholders to go beyond the open condemnations by seizing the opportunity that would be presented at the public hearing to vigorously push for desired amendments or changes to any such Bill prior to its likely passage or rejection by the legislature.

“We also sincerely suggest that members of the National Assembly should explore the alternatives of either re-examining the provisions of the Cyber Crime Act (2015) to accommodate current realities or advocate the applications, when necessary, of its provisions to check any negative use of social media.


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