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Ethiopia mulls bill to curb hate speech amid ethnic tensions

Ethiopia’s Attorney General’s office has confirmed work on a draft bill to curb rising hate speech and the irresponsible use of social media in Africa’s second most populous nation. Despite the opening of the political space

Ethiopia’s Attorney General’s office has confirmed work on a draft bill to curb rising hate speech and the irresponsible use of social media in Africa’s second most populous nation.

Despite the opening of the political space since April 2018 and with that the freedom of expression without fear of arrest, ethnic tensions have resulted in deadly incidents across the country.

Social media has been identified as one of the channels through which people have stoked these tensions leading to deaths, displacements and concerns that insecurity could derail reforms of the Abiy Ahmed-led government.

“There are growing concerns about hate speeches and uncensored activism in the country. The need to have a legal ground in bringing upon accountability towards these is not to be left for time,” Zinabu Tunu, a communications head at the office of the Attorney General told privately-owned Addis Standard.

“As part of the single-page plan [100 days], the ministry is drafting the bill with a ‘no time spirit’,” Zinabu added referring to a dashboard of action plan by the AG’s office.

He also stressed how hate speech helped in accelerating conflicts on the basis of race, nationality in a country with diverse groups.

The bill will not leave out posts and speeches on social media, which ignite conflict and hate speeches through popular individuals, Zinabu is quoted to have said.

Experts have expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the law especially with regard to social media regulation. “Narratives seem to change on the social media. This, however, will be tested as the government can not jail ideas, but people,” Seyoum Teshome, a varsity lecturer told Addis Standard.

“Censoring posts on social media and bringing accountability will hardly be successful, and it is yet another law to restrict the freedom of speech and right to criticize Abiy’s administration,” Seyoum added.

Even as Seyoum cautions, the AG’s office says the justice and legal affairs advisory council, is also reviewing issues to consider regarding the new bill.

Rights groups who have long campaigned for respect of rights in Ethiopia are likely to caution against the move even as Ethiopia might as well have to find ways to curb the phenomenon especially with its ethnic federalism and ahead of crucial elections slated for 2020.

African News

Review overview
  • aditekelezan November 25, 2018

    I believe maybe Assenna should curb hate comment eg. ካርነሽም ኣጥፊኦምናን ,ቀደሙ ኣከለጉዛይ ንፈልጠኩም እንዲና types that we have read some times ,regrettablly assenna is busy in curbing opposing views & that is a sad season for democracy in Assenna…..maybe there is pressure from contibutors…no matter what either one is democratic or not. There is no like “she is a little bit pregnant”, I hope assenna goes back to it’s roots.

    • k.tewolde November 26, 2018

      assenna is not a government or a political system it is a medium and it is juggling to accommodate a myriad of political views while maintaining its firm stand as an opposition website to the brutal dictatorship in our homeland,wedi godoboy what do you stand for??

      • aditekelezan November 26, 2018

        You are absolutely right ,but those who refused to fight in vetnam on moral grounds were/are Americans too. Those who said if Trump won they would move to canada or mars are still Americans.I do not want Assenna to be playgroung of caos but you have to admit our assenna is becoming less tolerable. K.Tewolde often for my coments you have given me the other side of my opinion.let people make their decision. I have also a say in our country.
        thank you

      • aditekelezan November 26, 2018

        ዝኸበርኩም ደቂ ኣሰና
        ኣብዚ ኣነን K.Tewolde ን G.Simon ን ዝተፋላለየ ርእይቶ ተዋሃሂብና ካብዚ ዘለዎ እውን ጥንክር እንተዝብል ኔሩ ንኣብነት, ወይ ሓዴና ገድልና መድሓኒና እዩ ኔሩ እንተዝብል እቲ ሓደ ድማ ኣይፋልኒ ካብ ሜዳ ጀሚሩባ ግፍዒ ፈጺሙ ኣብ ዝገደደ ጣጣ ኣእትዩና !!! እንተዝብል…ሓዴና ገድልና ቅኑዕን ፍትሓውን እዩ ኔሩ ኣብዚ ዳግመ ርእይቶ እውን ኣየድልዮን እንተዝብል ሓዴና ድማ ክላ ዝጎደለና ኣይነበረናን እወ ኣብ ጊዜ ፌደሬሽን ብጃንሆይን ኣሜሪካን ኢድ ምጥዋይ ኔሩ እዩ ግን ካብቶም ካልኦት ኢትዮጵያውያን ዝሓሸ ናይ ስራሕ ,ናይ ንግዲ አረውን ወትሃደራዊ ምዓርግ ዕድል ዝተዋህበና ንሕና እንዲና ኔርነ ብኻ እባ እታ ደርጊ ዝኣመማ regional autonomy ተቐቢልና እንተንነብር እዚ ኹሉ ጥፍኣት ኣይምሙጸን ኔሩ እንተዝብል መንና እዩ ኤርትራዊ መንና እዩኸ ዘይኤርትራዊ ? ኩላትና ዝተፋላሉየ ሓሳብን መፍትሕን ዘለዎም ኤርትራውያን ኢና . በዚ ርእይቶታትና ሰማይ ኣይፈረሰ ሕብረትና ኣይተፈንጥሐ !!! ስምዒትና ብቬትሮ ድዩ ተሰሪሑ ወይ ሕብረትና ብቼሬቶ/band aid ድዩ ተጣቢቑ ? ከምቲ ወርቂ ብሓዊ ዝፍተን ሕብረትናን ሓድነትናን ድማ ብፍልልይ ርእይቶታትና ይፈተን.
        the most brilliant

    • Simon G. November 26, 2018

      ካርነሽም: ዋላ ዓዲ-ሞንጎቲ: ዋላ ማዕረባ ዘይብጸሓካ ወዲ-ርበዓ “ቅጣው ኣሰፋ ጀምበሬ” ኢኻ
      ስለዚ: ካብ ገዛና ውጻእ።
      Of course, ብትሕትና!

    • መፍቀሬ ኢየሱስ November 26, 2018

      Yes good friends
      freedom of speech and spoiling the natural progress of the debate are different things.
      If I have a voice here: I would suggest a red line to any form of insult directly or indirectly. ሕጊ እንዳባ፡ ብቀጥራ ይኹን ብኣሽሙ ምጽራፍ ይኽልክል ኢዩ። ይትረፍዶ ንንጹሕ ሰብ፡ ወላ ንዝጸረፈካ`ውን ክትጸርፍ የብልካን ኢዩ ዝብል ህጊ እንዳባ።

      Arguments and different views can be expressed in a civilised manner.

      I understand Assenna may not have enough resources to control every comment.

      However, if unity is our aim, we have to ensure that this medium is not a place of irresponsible behaviours.

      This forum should not tolerate victimisation and stigmatisation of innocent individuals or groups.
      Assenna could display a warning stating its RED LINE.

      May unity, justice and love govern Eritreans everywhere – including in this forum.

  • aditekelezan November 26, 2018

    Simon G
    ኣብርሃያ ካብ ገዛና ክትብል ከለኻ ካብታ ካብታ ናይ ብርሃነ ድራርን ሻውሽን ማለትካ ድዩ ወይሲ ካብ ኣሰና ? ካብ ኣሰና ኤርትራ እንተኾይኑ ወዲ ማእከል ስለዝኾንኩስ ክወጽእ ክብል ነቶም ወሰን ዘለዉ ትግራይ ከየእትዎም እንተጸናሕኩ ይሓይሽ.

    • Sol November 26, 2018

      ዓዲተክሌዛን ኣብ ኣሰና ሓደ ልኡኽ ናይቲ ሙሽሙሽ ስርዓት ኤሰያስ ኣፍጸይቂ ንዓመታት ስሙ እናቀያየረ ሃይማኖታውን ኣውራጃውን ዓሌታውን ጽልኢ ክነዝሕ ጸኒሑ ጽልኡ ኣብ ኩሉ ኤረትራዊ ክብርታት ወሰን የብሉን ነዚ እንተዄንካ ኣሰና ክትጻወሮ ኣለዋ ትብል ዘለኻ ትጋገ ኣለኻ።

    • Danilo November 26, 2018

      ኣሃ! ኣግሂድካ ዓዲተከለዛን።ብወሰን ወሰን እባ ናብታ ምንጪ ዓጣኒት በርበረ ጡብ ኢልካ።ምንጪ ሓሳብካ’ውን እንተኾነ፡ “ሓዊ ኣጎድና፡ሹግርትን ዘይትን እንዳኾስና ዘይሓሰብናዮ ስቡሕ ተመን ብሰንኪ እቲ ዝነበረ ሃፋ ጡብ ክብለልና’ሞ ኣኹስና ክንበልዕ ወይ ከይንበልዕ” ዝያዳ ሓዊ ነሳውር ዝዓይነቱ ኣብ ደቂ ኣሰና ኣይሰርሕን እዩ’ሞ ነደኻ ማይ-ውረደላ።

  • Sol November 26, 2018

    ኣማንብኣማን ዳኒ ዘመነ ምትንዃል ኣብቂዑ’ዮ ተንኮለኛታት ይኺዱ ኣደ እንተላቶም ማይ ይውረዱላ።

    • Aba thimmer November 26, 2018

      Sol,ብርግጽ!!! ገና ብሓድነትና ማይ ክሓቁኑ እዮም።ውሕጅ እንዳስሓቀ ከም ዝወስድ መጠን ገፊዑ ማይዶ ጸባ ከብሎም ጸረርታ ደምና ሩባ መረብ ሰጊሩ ንእዲያት ጨርቂ ክድውን ክእለት ኣለዎ።ግን ዓቃል ዓቃል እዩ።

  • Danilo November 26, 2018

    I think the worst situation has to come yet in Ethiopia. One could valutate what is going on in Tigray region. hate is becoming increasingly contagious. No trust among and Dr Abi is no longer reliable. sooner will be furious dictator as his mate isayas.

  • aditekelezan November 26, 2018

    ክቡራት ደቂ ኣሰና

    See danilo,sol,Aba thimmer & I have strong differences in our opinions ,off course I reasoned & they gave you conspiracy theory without any substance. That is the beauty of accomodating most opinions. And if I am like they describe me ,what beter forum to expose me than assenna ??? !!! When you let a fool speak ,write or type you are exposing him to the masses. Thanks to assenna for letting us debate of our country ኤረይ ኩሕሎ !!! off course I debated the issue & the rest as they have no substance the best they could do is write about my intentions than my substance. All allowed in democracy

    • HdriswuE halalmariet November 27, 2018


      Theory is speculation or conjecture, isn’t it? And on what do you think you speculate or conjecture, on hard truth whose causes and principles are substanciated , or on ill grasped phenomena ? The latter, isn’t it?

      Now, can you see the contradiction you are in when you say, They Give You Conspiracy Theory Without Substance?

      By the way, with regard to isaias afewerk and his cabals, their crimes is not in Theory but Well documented hard facts. These ruffians have been hiding behind false mask of “Eritrean security” but not any more. Their hideout citadel has completely collapsed. Right now they are in a deep quagmire caught between their malicious lies, malicious crimes and their false promises of Justice and Democracy.

      Conversely, the Eritrean people whom they had divided and set at loggerheads as a means of realizing their evil dream, have now woken up on their malicious intent. It won’t be very long before they are rounded up behind bars

  • Hidat November 27, 2018

    ኣብ ሙሉእ ዓለም ነጻ ዝብሃል ፕረስ የለን።ኣሰና እኻ ክድምስሱ ጀሚሮም በቃ ኣከለ ድሕሪ ሕጂ ነጻ ፕረስ የለን ኢልካ።ኢድካ ምዉጥዋጥ የለን

  • rezen November 28, 2018

    Subject: “Ethiopia mulls bill to curb hate speech amid ethnic tensions”

    Question: Out of 16 commentaries how many are directly related to the subject matter? Let us make assenna’s Task easier, please, for our own sake. .