Hate speech and freedom of expression: legal boundaries in Nigeria

Published In: Library Research Journal
Article Link: https://journals.unizik.edu.ng/index.php/lrj/article/view/556/528
Author(s): Dr. Ngozi Chisom Uzoka

Hate speech and freedom of expression: legal boundaries in Nigeria
Photo Illustration: Hate speech and freedom of expression: legal boundaries in Nigeria
Photo Credit
: Slate.com
Ngozi Chisom
N. C. Uzoka

In this social research paper, a doctrinal research method was adopted by Dr. Ngozi Chisom Uzoka of Faculty of Law, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria to examine the boundaries between hate speech and freedom of expression. The researcher informed that her study attempts to provide answers to the following; what constitutes hate speech, the existing legal framework available to checkmate hate speech in Nigeria, what is the best approach to the determination of what constitutes hate speech and whether there should be a limit to freedom of expression in a democracy. This study also hopes to draw the boundary between hate speech and freedom of expression. An excerpt from the paper reads:

Hate speech is a constantly evolving phenomenon, with new perpetrators, targets and tactics. Socially conscious journalists are aware of how rapidly hate-filled messages seep into and often overwhelm comments on the Internet. Freedom of expression is one of the fundamental human rights enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria. However, there is a need to strike a balance between the right to speak and the pursuit of racial, religious and communal justice and harmony.

The discussions on the freedom of speech and hate speech often lose focus; definitions get fuzzy and legitimate concerns are seen as unwarranted censorship. The purpose of this paper is to manifest the problem of the definition of hate speech and vital distinctions between incitement to cause harm such as negative discrimination and violence and expressions that hurt a community’s feelings, including insulting beliefs. In this paper, the researcher adopted the doctrinal research method which is a legal research method. The paper found that there is a conflicting definition of what hate speech means.

There is also the problem of drawing a distinct line between the need to protect the democratic tenet of freedom of expression and the abuse of the same. The paper concludes by suggesting that there is a need to establish a boundary between hate and offensive speech and freedom of speech, so as to prevent violence. Read more …

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