Ethiopia passes hate speech, disinformation legislation

Hate Speech and Disinformation Prevention and Suppression Proclamation got approval as majority in Ethiopian parliament supported it. Critics see it as a threat to free speech ahead of national election

Ethoipia _ hate speech _ legislation

borkena
February 13, 202

Ethiopia’s House of Peoples representative approved on Thursday draft legislation on hate speech and disinformation.

The Parliament was called from a one-month recess this week.

About 300 members of Parliament attended the session that approved the legislation. Twenty-three members of the Parliament opposed the bill, and there were two abstain voices – according to state media Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC).

The discussion in the Parliament highlighted that “Good values and relationship between Ethiopians are being eroded because of hate-speech and dissemination of false information. Hate-speech and disinformation are also posing a threat to the country.”

A considerable number of parliamentarians seem to believe that the newly minted legislation could help prevent hate-speech and related problems as no other existing laws of the land are protecting Ethiopians from the negative impacts of hate-speech.

Member of Parliament Abebe Godebo said: “Ethiopia has become a victim of disinformation,…the country is a land of diversity, and this bill will help to balance those diversities,” as quoted in Aljazeera report on Thursday.

Those who oppose the legislation expressed concern that freedom of expression, free speech, and the free press could be at risk. Some activists and politicians argue that the bill is introduced ahead of the upcoming national election as a tool to silence dissent.  

In December 2019, Human Rights Watch expressed concern saying that the “Bill Threatens Free Expression” and called upon parliamentarians to revise draft legislation.

In late October 2019, Ethiopia experienced widespread violence in the Oromo region after a prominent radical Oromo ethnic nationalist, Jawar Mohammed,  shared a Facebook update claiming that he has concern for his security. He wrote his message after the government tried to remove his security details from his residence in Addis Ababa in the middle of the night. Ethiopian government admitted that 86 people ( including police officers) were killed in connection to the violence.

The incident gave ground for the government to come up with a legal response to speeches that stir violence. And the legislation was drafted. Laetitia Bader, a senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch,  criticized the draft legislation in December 2019. She called it “…an ill-construed law that opens the door for law enforcement officials to violate rights to free expression is no solution.”

The new legislation punishes hate-speech and disinformation with jail terms and fines. Violators of the bill could face up to five years in jail or 100,000 Ethiopian birr, which is a little over $US 3000.



Join the conversation. Like borkena on Facebook and get Ethiopian News updates regularly. As well, you may get Ethiopia News by following us on twitter @zborkena

7 Responses to "Ethiopia passes hate speech, disinformation legislation"

  1. Ittu Aba Farda   February 13, 2020 at 10:26 pm

    There has been so much poison being spewed around by bigots and there must be a degree of accountability because human lives and properties have been lost as a result. It would be impossible to hold these hate mongers accountable without indicating them a red line not to be crossed. Legislation is needed. We can moan and cry from our comfy homes at a safe distance but those innocent people have paid the brunt of destruction and they need to be protected. We all have heard the phrase ‘no one should be above the law’ or ‘the law of the land’. Well, such law should be in the books. If there are any wrinkles in the law there must be a constitutional leeway to weed them out. But for now the old country has suffered enough because these demonic hate mongers have had field days sowing hatred among neighbors. There must be a sheriff in the town with a just law at hand to keep order so citizens can go about their daily chores and bring the dough home to their families.

    Reply
  2. Mr. Kifle   February 14, 2020 at 9:51 am

    In Abiy Ahmed & Co.’s fictionary Dictionary :

    Accusing Querro as a terrorist group= Hateful and also lie spreading Speech made with intention to bring unrests.

    Saying One ethnic only Oromo holds the key leadership positions in the national security apparatus (dehninet INSA… ) = lie spreading speech made with intention to bring unrests.

    Saying one ethnic only Oromo holds the key leadership positions in the Federal Police = Hateful and also lie spreading speech made with intention to brings unrests.

    Saying one ethnic only Oromo holds the key leadership positions in the Ethiopian AirForce = Hateful and also lie spreading speech made with intention to bring unrests.

    SAYING ONE ETHNIC ONLY OROMO HOLDS THE KEY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT LEADERSHIP POSITIONS = HATEFUL AND LIE SPREADING SPEECH MADE WITH INTENT TO BRING UNRESTS.

    Saying Chief federal Prosecutor Berhanu Tsegaye does not have legal authority to arrest , interogate , sue , prosecute the same persons all by himself = Hateful and lie spreading speech made with intent to bring unrests.

    Saying one ethnic only Oromo holds the key federal city Addis Ababa leadership positions = Hateful and lie spreading speech made with intent to bring unrests .

    WHILE PM Abiy Ahmed is saying
    “We deported TPLF out of Addis Ababa and we will not let them return to Addis Ababa” is not a hate speech .

    Saying “we deported TPLF out of Addis Ababa and made them the government of killil one Tigray region so Oromo owns Addis Ababa without a contender ” is not considered a hateful speech with intent to bring unrests

    Reply
  3. SUE , ABIY & CO.   February 14, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    Abiy Ahmed & Co. are criminals,tyrants , dictators same as the TPLF dictators junta was .

    Reply
  4. Segu Gemeddu   February 15, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    It is was from zehabesha .com that Querro and Dr Jawar was tranished and defamed as ashebari while he is patriotic Oromo. hate speech is still win massive room in zehabesha and other amhara region born youtubers calling Oromo, Kimant, Tigray people ‘ashebariwoch” while over over 50 Oromos killld brutally let alone the countless killings in southeren Oromia region.
    Dr Merara is a perfect leader for this land regardless of the hate speech from desperate rivals.

    Reply
    • Meme   February 15, 2020 at 8:34 pm

      Segu Gemeddu

      Merira is getting too old now, maybe twenty years back he would have been perfect, it is too late now he is getting senile showing many signs of early Alzheimer’s . He is not fit for this job or any other. The middle aged Derg raised , TPLF trained political volchers will have him for breakfast if he assumes office.

      Reply
      • Gaddissa   February 16, 2020 at 12:23 pm

        Dr Jawar will be chief of Staff and PM and Dr Merara will be the president, decision made coould not be reversed.

        I HAVE NEVER SEEN BLLODY IDIOTS PSEUDO INTELLECTUALS IN THE SCALE OF WRITERS AT THE ZEHABESHA PROMOTING VIOLENCE FOR POLITICAL GAINS; SCHOOLS ARE NOW WHERE YOU COULD PURCHASE CREDENTIALS BE IT FAMOUS OR INFAMOUS REGARDLESS OF THE COUNTRY THEY ARE LOCATED;; PLEASE FIRST REMOVE THE BEAM FROM YOUR OWN EYE, AND THEN YOU WILL SEE CLEARLY ENOUGH TO REMOVE THE SPECK FROM YOUR BROTHER’S EYE.”MATT 7:5 YOU ARE CRYING NONSTOP AND YOU SEEM TO RUN OUT OF LIES AND THE MANNER YOU GENERATE LIES IS NOW OUTDATED.NO LONGER WORTHY TO LOOK AT .

        neftegna is suffering from madness that is not gonna be cured soon.

        Reply
  5. Ruben   February 15, 2020 at 11:55 pm

    Ethiopia: Abducted university students, family members arrested.
    Berhanu Tsegaye Hate speech law’s first victims became family members of the abducted University students.

    ecadforum.com/2020/02/15/ethiopia-abducted-university-students-family-members-arrested/amp/

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.