The United Nations has now shifted its attention on stopping the increasing cases of racial discrimination on the internet and social media, with the opening of Anti-Racism Committee session in Geneva.
Charged with fighting racist hate speech on different platforms, the UN Anti-Racism Committee will be looking to find ways through which online hate speech can be eliminated, possibly through education of internet users.
Speaking at the launch of the three-week long session, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri said, “Where does the right of expression, which we all want to respect, stop and the need to sanction and prevent hate speech begin? What is the point in time when one right has to recognize that it cannot be exercised if it implies the violation of another one?”
This is the 83rd session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which has over the years noted with great concern the increasing cases of online racist speech, thanks to the rapid penetration of internet and social media in most countries in the last five years.
Back in June, the UN Human Rights Council recommended the use of education as a tool to avert racial discrimination and chauvinism, saying that this could help combat the vice and also build a more cohesive society.
This comes a few months after Kenya witnessed rapid spread of hate speech via social media platforms before and after the March 2013 General elections. The Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK), the country’s communications regulator, in partnership with the mobile phone operators and the Judiciary had warned of stern action against perpetrators of online hate speech.
However, four months after the general elections and the widely reported cases of online hate speech, perpetrators of are yet to be brought to book.
Could the resolution by the Human Rights Council on using education as a tool to fight hate speech be the solution as compared to prosecuting the perpetrators? This are some of the things the Committee session in Geneva will be exploring, at the same time evaluating reports submitted from several countries as case studies.