UNMIL CAUTIONS AGAINST HATE SPEECH TO SUSTAIN PEACE IN LIBERIA
Monrovia – Speaking at a national conference convened on the elimination of hate speech, UNMIL DSRSG Waldemar Vrey today said that although freedom of speech is a fundamental right, Liberians should refrain from engaging in or listening to hate speech in order to sustain the ongoing peace and reconciliation process after 14 years of civil war.
The conference, organized by the Independent National Human Rights Commission with support from UNMIL aimed at creating a forum for stakeholders to deliberate ways to mitigate hate speech in the national electoral process. It drew participation from some political parties, National Civil Society Council of Liberia, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the National Elections Commission among other stakeholders.
“Many observers have noted that inflammatory language has been used in the name of freedom of expression,” said Vrey. “The use of inflammatory language would create unnecessary tension that may ignite a political and national crisis.”
Mr. Vrey said that hate speech specifically and, in fact, any inflammatory and inciteful language violates the right of people to live without fear as well as to not be discriminated against. He added that it infringes the inherent dignity and equality of individuals and commended political parties for promoting a violence-free electioneering period. He said that UNMIL has continually supported the freedom of the press. He called on the media to play a key role in fostering peace, transparency and fairness during the election process.
“The UN believes that initiatives of this nature are needed to build and promote respect for each other as Liberians, as well as the rule of law in the electoral process.” he concluded.