Thursday, 1 March 2018

Senate Proposing Bill To Make Hate Speech Punishable By Death

The Nigerian Senate is considering a bill that would spell the death penalty for anyone convicted of hate speech that leads to the death of another. The bill is in response to incidences of unchecked and inciting speeches which have played roles in the spate of violence that is rocking the nation. According to the bill, “any person found guilty of any form of hate speech that results in the death of another person shall die by hanging upon conviction”.

The bill, sponsored by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC-Niger), seeks the establishment of a commission whose primary mandate would be the enforcement of hate speech laws nationwide. The commission, called the National Commission for Hate Speeches in the bill, would be headed by an executive chairperson “who would be appointed by the president on the recommendation of the National Council of State, subject to the confirmation of at least two-third majority of the National Assembly”.

Also contained in the bill is a discussion of racial or ethnicity-related harassment. It points out that: “A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provides, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and/or visual, which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, commits an offence, if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or person from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.

“A person subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity for the purposes of this section where, on ethnic grounds, he unjustifiably engages in a conduct which has the purpose or effect of (a) violating that other person’s dignity or (b) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person subjected to the harassment. “Conduct shall be regarded as having the effect specified in subsection (1) (a) or (b) of this section if, having regard to all the circumstances, including in particular the perception of that other person, it should reasonably be considered as having that effect.”

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