A newly proposed bill which stipulates death penalty for hate speech has triggered fears as it may undermine freedom of expression in Africa’s largest democracy.
Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, took to a local TV in Nigeria to promote the bill — death by hanging for a person who commits hate speech that leads to the death of another person.
“Hate speech … is targeted at an identified group and as a result leads to violence or disorder,” and is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, said.
“Somebody must not die in somebody’s hand because I want to express myself.” Said Sabi-Abdullahi, senator from All Progressives Congress (APC) party
The proposals come as Nigeria prepares itself for the next general election while battling to control ethnic tensions, amid the Biafra separatist and Boko Haram militant movements
The bill would create the Independent National Commission for Hate Speeches to enforce the proposed laws, which also include prison terms and fines for less severe cases.
“It could be used to curtail speech, to frighten people,” Professor Adibe told the ABC.
Hate speech is speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability or gender.
The law of some countries describes hate speech as speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display that incites violence or prejudicial action against a protected group or individual on the basis of their membership of the group.
In some countries, hate speech is not a legal term and in some, it is constitutionally protected.
In some countries, a victim of hate speech may seek redress under civil law, criminal law, or both. A website that contains hate speech may be called a hate site. Many of these sites contain Internet forums and news briefs that emphasize a particular viewpoint.
There has been debate over freedom of speech, hate speech and hate speech legislation.