Umm Muhammed Umar 14.02.2020
In Ethiopia, parliament has passed a law targeted at fake news and hate speech. The House of Peoples’ Representatives passed the Hate Speech and Misinformation Law three months after cabinet approved it.
The law aims to prevent individuals from engaging in speech inciting violence, and promoting hatred and discrimination against a person or a group. It seeks to control and suppress the creation and propagation of hate speech, misinformation and other misleading information. No hate speech will be allowed to be disseminated by means of broadcasting, print or social media using texts, images, audio or video.
Social media has been identified as one of the main avenues used to incite ethnic violence. This has led to deaths and displacements in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia, however, already had a restrictive media space prior to April 2018 and the coming into office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Now, this new law comes just months before keenly awaited elections.
While Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had stood by his reform promise, releasing hundreds of political prisoners, and jailed journalists, as well as allowing previously banned media to return and operate in the country, this new law is being harshly criticised by the media and especially, by human rights activists.