Campaigns 2023: NHRC to set up hate speech register

The National Human Rights Commission said on Monday it would set up a national hate speech registry to track incitement and hate speech in campaigns for the 2023 elections.
The commission said the action followed hate speech rhetoric from different political parties and their supporters, adding that it would encourage citizen participation in the electoral process.
NHRC Executive Secretary Tony Ojukwu (SAN) said this during a program on the launch of ‘Mobilizing Voters for Elections’ held in Abuja.
He also said the commission is partnering with Facebook and Twitter to develop a simple media monitoring platform to track violators.
According to him, the commission would work with relevant security agencies to ensure citizens’ access to the voting process and to protect their voting rights rather than intimidation.
Ojukwu said the program aims to facilitate citizens’ access to the permanent voter card, promote citizen participation in the electoral process through access to PVC and ensure that law enforcement and Security agencies adopt human rights principles in protecting voter access and participation. .
Ojukwu said, “The NHRC is establishing a National Hate Speech Registry which will monitor and track hate speech from all platforms across Nigeria and deploy its enforcement mandate on perpetrators.
“The commission will work with Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to fully establish an oversight mechanism to achieve this goal.
“The National Human Rights Commission, for its part, will fully advocate against the use of hate speech. The commission will not act to support any effort to impose spurious limitations on the right to freedom of expression.
“It is incumbent on those who seek to control speech, especially on social media, to respect this fine line and strike the right balance to ensure that human rights are not further violated, while fighting against the hate speech.”
He said that under the project, the commission would ensure that political parties and politicians integrate human rights commitments and messages into their various campaigns.
The NHRC also hinted that plans are underway to design PVC observation centers across the country to observe and collect the difficulties encountered by citizens in collecting PVC.
The commission recalled that the three elections of 1999, 2003 and 2007 were followed by complaints of irregularities, ranging from logistical failure, disenfranchisement to electoral fraud of all kinds.
Ojukwu said the trend had negative consequences for the growth and maintenance of Nigerian democracy and laid the groundwork for a subsequent sea change in voter behavior as evidenced by apathy and declining voter turnout. that would be observed in subsequent elections.
He said: “As a result, in the following three elections in 2011, 2015 and 2019, citizen participation in the electoral process and voting dropped, reaching a historic low of 35% in the 2019 elections. According to the Electoral Commission Independent National Assembly, the percentage of registered voters who voted in the 2011, 2015 and 2019 elections was 53.7, 43.6% and 34.75% respectively.
“Of the 84,004,084 registered voters in 2019, only 28,614,190 voters voted in the presidential election. Per capita, the turnout in the 2019 elections is the lowest in the West African sub-region.
“Statistics available to the commission reveal that only around 10% of the public eligible to vote participated in the 2021 elections in Anambra State. The absence of effective voter participation in elections deprives citizens of their fundamental role in a democracy, which is the freedom to choose their representatives.
“We believe this MOVE project will enable the commission to integrate human rights into democracy and ensure citizen participation in the upcoming general elections in 2023.”

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