Oct 2012 03 – 04

Combating Extremism and Hate Speech in Africa while Protecting Freedom of Expression

Teranga, Saly, Senegal

The Panos Institute West Africa, the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria and Article 19 are convening a consultation on hate speech in Africa, to take place in Dakar on 3-4 October 2012.

The consultation will be led by Mr Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur for freedom of opinion and expression, and Mr Alexey Avtonomov, Chair of the UN Committee on the Eradication of Racial Discrimination, with participation as well by Dr Bideri Diogene of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide in Rwanda.

The Consultation will include sessions on:

• International and regional legal principles on freedom of expression and on discrimination, including how to balance the right to freedom of expression and the right to be free of discrimination;

• Specific case studies on how courts have attempted to balance these rights in practice;

• A survey of the degree to which hate speech is appearing in the media and on key social media;

• A survey of the impact of hate speech on targeted groups and individuals;

• A discussion by selected media regulators of how they have had to respond to hate speech;

• A survey of best practices by media and social media in responding to hate speech;

• Potential break-out sessions on promising advocacy strategies to respond to hate speech going forward.

Participants will be drawn equally from NGOs and professionals working on freedom of expression, and from NGOs and professionals working against discrimination, particularly in support of groups that may be targets of hate speech. In addition, it is expected that some representatives from regulators who have had to respond to hate speech will attend. In this way, the organisers aim to ensure a genuine multi-stakeholder dialogue on the challenges that hate speech poses for freedom of expression, and for the right to be free from discrimination and extremism.

Anja Kovacs will participate in this event.

It is estimated that many of the event’s insights will be reported on by Mr La Rue in his report to the UN General Assembly later in October, 2012.