Broadcast Regulation

Ethiopia: New Broadcast Law Feared To Be Undermining Free Speech

The Ethiopian government recently passed a law that criminalises hate speech and fake news, a move that has been widely criticised by human rights groups as a significant threat to freedom of expression.

The Hate Speech and Disinformation Prevention and Suppression Proclamation legislation, which bans the broadcasting of hate speech and fake news, as well as posting items on social media that could result in violence or the disturbance of public peace, was passed by Ethiopia’s parliament with a majority vote.

Violators could be fined up to $3,115 and imprisoned for as many as five years.

Since 2018 Ethiopia has reportedly experienced severe cases of communal and ethnic violence. According to the authorities, a lot of that may have been caused by hate speech and fake news that increased ethnic tensions and violence.

The Human Rights Watch has warned that the bill could stifle freedom of expression if approved.

It called for the government to instead find a comprehensive strategy to address hate speech.

Similarly, while visiting Ethiopia last December, David Kaye, the United Nations special representative on freedom of expression and opinion, raised concerns that the law didn’t meet international standards and that the clauses could give law enforcement a wide scope for misinterpretation.


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