Journalist challenges proposed hate speech proclamation


Melat Mulugeta

Ethiopia is going through a challenging time concerning social media use. Following the reform, individuals have been abusing freed of expression and speech to spread hate and incite violence. After observing the pressing matter, the Ethiopian government, specifically Federal Attorney General announced drafting proclamation to ban hate speech and fake news dissemination in Ethiopia on March 26, 2019. According to the government, the proclamation became crucial as such freedom cannot be achieved at the cost of safety and security of the people. If the proclamation is ratified, anyone or group distributing false news could be jailed up to three years and fined 10,000 Birr, and anyone or group inciting fear or violence could face up to 10 years of jail terms.

Ethiopia’s plan to ratify proclamation caught the attention of Human Rights Watch(HRW). The institution expressed concerns towards the effectiveness of such proclamation along with others who have doubts and the institution recommended a comprehensive strategy to Ethiopia. The institution is not alone in doubting the draft. In a discussion with media stakeholders and officials, journalist Meseret becomes the second person to challenge the draft.