The House of Peoples Representatives of Ethiopia on Thursday passes hate speech, which was contested by media practitioners, among others.
Anyone engaged in producing and disseminating hate speech and disinformation including using social media will be subject to hefty fines and long jail, according to the new law. Among those who opposed the new law includes members of Parliament who represented the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), which used to be the dominant in the ruling coalition before the coming of the reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to power some two years ago.
Disseminating hate speech by means of broadcasting, the print or social media using text, image, audio or video is prohibited, according to article 4 for the proclamation. “Any person who commits acts proscribed under Article 4 shall be punished with simple imprisonment not exceeding three years or a fine not exceeding 100,000 Ethiopian birr (about $3,100 at the current exchange rate),” it says.
Ethiopia is expected to hold general election end of August this year and the hate speech law is expected to refrain individuals from fueling ethnic tensions during and after the election as the majority of political parties in the country are currently ethnic based.