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The Society for Democratic Initiatives (SDI) has organized a national dialogue conference at Hotel Barmoi Aberdeen in Freetown to address the issue of hate speech and its chaotic recipes during the elections and electioneering processes in the country.
The program featured a host of dignitaries from different walks of life and the conference was chaired by Mr. Tonyia Musa, a renowned journalist and lecturer at the Mass Communications Department of Fourah Bay College University of Sierra Leone. He focused the importance of discussions on Hate Speech to the theme ‘Hate Speech a recipe for chaos before, during and after elections.’
Talking on this issue the National Elections Watch Representative, James Lahai, cited reference that hate speech is on record to have resulted into deaths of close friends, relatives and loss of precious things. He also state that it has degenerated into a point that good records of both past and present governments are being smeared on the common ground of hate.
Mr. Lahai cited examples from countries such as Rwanda and Kenya who suffered the brunt of hate speeches and state security in the end was jeopardized to culminate a spillover effect that ended killing innocent people.
The chairman maintained that his organisation is obliged to act now in preventing the spillover effect of hate speech rather than curing it. He noted also that this is the reason why NEW and the civil society organisations stand as champions lobbying the government to pass into law the Public’s Election Act.
He maintained that NEW has widened its operations primarily to ameliorate the problem that are likely to ignite violence in the forthcoming elections in November. He noted further that his organisation has targeted five thematic issues in order to avoid pre and post-elections violence.
Talking on this issue Human Rights, Commissioner Rev. Moses Kanu started by heaping praises to the organizer of this program. He defined what is hate speech and its elements to mean any comment directed at one particular group, color, race, religion, which is aimed at provoking the other.
Rev. Moses spoke further that once a statement of hate has been voiced it cannot be taken back, citing further some statements of late by politicians and other stakeholders which are consider as tribal hate messages that are clear recipes for chaos.
He called for a new Act to be adopted which will pursue those who are seen perpetrating hate content to be punished by law. He also maintained that the new Public’s Election Act should start by exhibiting it fullest lengths. He said he is calling on all media outlets to desist from broadcasting and publishing hate content messages.
Nana Bosia, representative of UNIPSIL lent his voice to the issue stating that hate speech is in not benefitting any society. He called for all to stay clear of it. Chairman of the Independent Media Commission (IMC) Rod-Mac Johnson, said the media plays a pivotal role in selling hate content messages. He outlined that IMC are planning to institute a monitoring team that will regulate local radio stations and newspaper outlets on reporting and aired program for the November 17 polls election.
The commissioner stated further that IMC will organize a pair review recession for both editors and program managers so as to regulate the activities of their various media outlet.
Representatives of APC, SLPP, PMDC, UDM, RUFP, political parties registered their support on this thematic issue of hate speech and its consequences by pledging their unfailing support to sign the communiqué.
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