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Raj, Prasad clash Over Hate speech on Social Media

Raj, Prasad clash Over Hate speech on Social Media
(LEFT) NFP leader Biman Prasad, (RIGHT) MIDA Chairman Ashwin Raj
April 04
11:00 2017

Ashwin Raj yesterday hit back at National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad for criticising his statement on hate speech on social media.

The director of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission said Mr Prasad “seems to be in the habit of distorting facts.”

Mr Raj spoke on hate speech and social media in the 4 the Record programme on FBC TV on Sunday.

“The fact is that my intervention on the 4 the Record was very clearly about considering the possibility of regulating hate speech on the social media,” he said.

“Hate speech is a constitutional crime. It is not about suppressing freedom of expression. I clearly talked about balancing freedom of expression with responsibility.”

But Mr Prasad had said it was shocking that Mr Raj had urged the State to pursue the regulation of social media. He said it must be condemned in the strongest terms.

He said: “It is chilling, unconstitutional and could be easily wielded as an instrument to again stifle the voices of the people of Fiji.”

Mr Prasad called on Mr Raj to resign.

Mr Raj said Mr Prasad was invited by the FBC twice to address these matters and he refused.

“If he is the paragon of virtue and is speaking truth to power, then why is he refusing to engage me on these matters that affect ordinary Fijians,” he asked.

He said the Fijian Constitution and international law expressly prohibited hate speech.

Mr Raj said States should adopt legislation expressly prohibiting racist hate speech, including the dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination, and threats or incitement to violence.

“It is not an attack on free speech or the silencing of controversial ideas or criticism but a recognition that the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities”.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa


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