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NHRC convenes stakeholder meeting to validate findings, mitigate hate speech

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By Olimatou Coker

The National Human Rights Commission with support from Unesco Wednesday convened relevant stakeholders to study findings and mitigation of prevalence of hate speech in The Gambia at the African Princess Hotel.

The study aims to give a clearer picture of the prevalence of hate speech, with a view to addressing its impact.

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The National Human Rights Commission and local experts are hoping that the validation will produce suggestions capable of preventing and minimising hate speech.

Analysis of traditional and social media posts over recent years reveals the presence of hate speech in The Gambia based on political, religious and ethnic differences, gender and sexual orientation. This reality has raised NHRC’s concern over the growth of hate speech in The Gambia.

Emmanuel Daniel Joof, the chairperson, said the danger of hate speech is still looming, and they need effective measures to counter it otherwise it will yield a disastrous outcome in the country.

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“A study Commission by the United Nations Development Programme and conducted by the Gambia press Union and the University of the Gambia reveals that most hate speech in the Gambia occurs on Facebook and WhatsApp platforms,” Joof added.

Michelle Elvis Kenmoe, head of communications and information at Unesco, said the initiative is aligned with the UN strategy and plan of action on hate speech. “It is worth recalling the four main principles underpinning the strategy and guiding our intervention to counter hate speech. First, is the respect for freedom of expression and opinion. In other words, the countering of hate speech shall not hamper freedom of expression and opinion. The definitive countering of hate speech requires the engagement of government, civil society organisations media and academia,” he explained.

Saikou Jammeh, lead consultant and David Kujabi, an expert, both took participants through the findings and people’s perception of hate speech, with the aim of outlining recommendations on how to counter and mitigate its impact.

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