New Ethiopian 'hate speech' law could spell trouble ahead of elections

Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed.
Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed.
Image: REUTERS/Kumera Gemechu/File Photo

A new law in Ethiopia will result in extended jail sentences and sky-high fines for spreading hate speech and disinformation, reported Al Jazeera.

The law describes hate speech as any discourse that incites prejudice against individuals and groups based on “nationality, ethnic and religious affiliation, sex or disabilities”. Anyone found to be in contravention of this law can be fined as much as R46,200 and sentenced for up to five years in jail.

The bill passed with about 300 legislators voting for the law on Thursday. This is despite civil rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch, saying that the law is a deliberate attempt to suppress dissent and freedom of speech before the country’s election which is set for August.

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