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Nigeria Decides: UN Condemns Surge of Hate Speech

The global body revealed that such hate speech is amplified at an unprecedented rate by digital technology.

Ms. Alice Wairimu Nderitu
Ms. Alice Wairimu Nderitu

The United Nations (UN) has condemned the surge in the use of inflammatory language, hateful and divisive rhetoric during Nigeria’s electioneering.

The global body also revealed that such hate speech is amplified at an unprecedented rate by digital technology.

United Nations Under Secretary General – Special Adviser, on the Prevention of Genocide, Ms. Alice Wairimu Nderitu, expressed this concerns, during a press conference, at United Nations Building in Abuja on Friday.

She said that Diaspora blogs and social media posts, fueling the normalization of violence are also deep concern.

Nderitu, who is in Nigeria on a working visit, said hate speech, especially if accompanied by policies and practices that discriminate against populations based on their identity often results in hate crimes, discrimination, and violence and can be both a precursor and a trigger of atrocity crimes, in particular genocide.

On the warning signs of genocide, the UN Under Secretary General, said: “Early warning signs and risk factors include dissemination of hate speech and absence of independent mechanisms to address it; politicization of identity, proliferation of local militias and other armed groups, particularly dehumanizing type of violence inflicted upon civilians based on their ethnicity, religion, race, or nationality, intergroup tensions and attack against civilian populations, long standing structural discrimination, deep economic inequalities and social exclusion, and shrinking democratic and civic spaces among others.

“While elections are sometimes not a risk factor, they have in some instances provided excuses for exacerbating tensions that could lead to violence”.

Nderitu, said to address this identified dangers, tech and social media companies should utilize all tools available to stop the spread of hate speech that could constitute incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence on their platforms.

She advised that: “Action aimed at countering and addressing hate speech must be at the heart of all prevention effort. Indeed, it all begins with words.”

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

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