IS HATE SPEECH PART OF A CITIZEN'S RIGHT OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH

The details you should know about hate speech and freedom of speech.

CHAMAN LAW FIRM

3/2/20222 min read

IS HATE SPEECH PART OF A CITIZEN'S RIGHT OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH

The laws in Nigeria accord and provide rights and privileges to be enjoyed by every citizen. To be more precise, Section 39 of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria provides Freedom of Expression, under which Freedom of Speech falls to every Nigerian. So we all have the right to talk and air our views, publish these views and also listen to or read the views of others as well. However, that you have liberty to do a certain thing, does not mean it should be done excessively, creating problems or infringing on the rights of another person. In an era like this where everybody has a view on how degrading statements and insults can deflate the self esteem of another, cause a mental trauma, be the cause of a suicide or even lead to feud, disagreements and war between nations, words should not be taken lightly, and even if everyone has freedom of speech, hate speech should not be categorised as part of a person's right to speak as they want to.

Hate Speech is an abusive or threatening speech or writing that expresses prejudice against a particular group, especially on the basis of race, religion, or sexual orientation. Most of the inter-tribal wars or international wars stem from hate speech. When an abusive or threatening speech is said against a particular nation, a feud is created and if care is not taken, a genocide which may escalate and as other nations try to take sides, may lead to a world war. Hate Speech is such an important aspect of speech that some social apps like Twitter can take down a person's account if what he tweets is considered as hate speech. Hate speech covers many forms of expressions which advocate, incite, promote or justify hatred, violence and discrimination against a person or group of persons for a variety of reasons.

The important thing will not be the moral wrongness of hate speech, it will be the provisions of the law regarding hate speech because whatever the law will be a shield and possibly a reason to sue if hate speech is said against a person.

Pursuant to S. 45 (1) of the CFRn 1999 (as amended):

Nothing in sections 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41 of this Constitution shall invalidate any law that is

reasonably justifiable in a democratic society

(a) in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or

(b) for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom or other persons

By virtue of this provision, Section 39 which talks about freedom of speech is not absolute, it can be restricted on some grounds. Though not directly spelt out, a statement or publication against public safety, public order, public morality, public health or a statement that do not provide the rights and freedom of other persons is a hate speech and is therefore not permitted by the law or categorised as part of Freedom of Speech.

WRITTEN BY: CHAMAN LAW FIRM TEAM

E-MAIL: chamanlawfirm@gmail.com / info.chamanlawfirm.com

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