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Hate speech will not be tolerated: Qiliho

Hate speech will not be tolerated: Qiliho
Police Commissioner, Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho
February 13
12:01 2018

Police Commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho says hate speech of any kind cannot be tolerated and must be stopped before it creates agitation.

Speaking at the Police Headquarters in Centre Point, Nasinu yesterday, Brigadier-General Qiliho said the dark side of Fiji’s political history was reason enough to be seriously concerned about hate speech.

The concept of hate speech has sparked much debate across Fiji in recent weeks, as the country prepares for the General Election.

A National Federation Party provisional election candidate last week said it was justified under freedom of speech, attracting sharp criticism from Fiji’s Human Rights Commission.

Social Democratic Liberal Party Leader Sitiveni Rabuka, who revealed he was a victim of hate speech, said: “I do not contribute to hate speeches and many hate posts have been directed at me, but I do not respond. I will not stoop that low!”

Wikipedia says hate speech is speech which attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability or gender.

According to Brigadier-General Qiliho it is something that needs to be addressed now rather than later.

“We are seriously concerned about hate speech that’s going on,” he said.

“If people are talking about issues and having arguments based on that then it is not an issue with us. But when you start hate speech based on ethnic and religious lines that is totally unacceptable.”

He said Police were currently investigating cases related to hate speech.

Hate speech, as well as online bullying, are rampant on public Facebook groups like Chat Fiji and Fiji Exposed forums; both have accumulated a combined following of close to 400,000 people, nearly half of Fiji’s population.

Given that many of these users operate with fake accounts, police face a serious challenge in identifying these people and taking them to task.

“From a policing perspective, if we allow these things to continue at the end of the day it’s the Fiji Police Force that have to go out and deal with these issues when they become out of hand,” Brigadier-General Qiliho said.

“We’d rather be proactive and deal with these issues now before people get agitated and start doing things.”

Edited by Rusiate Mataika

Feedback:  sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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