For the record: Communiqué issued at the end of the webinar entitled “Combating hate speech to build the culture of peace in Nigeria” organised by United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in collaboration with Penpushing Media for journalists on Wednesday, October 27, 2021 via Zoom.
The two hours discussion centred on how Nigerian journalists can play their key roles in stemming the tide of hate speech in the country considering the vantage positions they occupy in the dissemination of news and information in the society.
It featured presentations on “Understanding and Identifying Hate Speech”, “International Principles and National Responses to Hate Speech in Nigeria”, “The Role of CSOs in Countering Hate Speech in Nigeria” as well as Countering Online Hate Speech Through Media and Information Literacy (MIL), Hate Speech, Ethical Journalism and National Security – Navigating the Crossroads and Examining Selected Cases of Hate Speech in Nigeria” among other salient issues.
The UNIC Country Director, Mr. Roland Kayanja expressed delight in collaborating with Penpushing Media, and urged participants to consider how social media should be regulated to prevent the spread of hate speech on various platforms they operate.
Similarly, the Chairman, Editorial Board of Penpushing, Deaconess Olufunke Fadugba, who stated that organising the event would help journalists focus on how they contribute their quota to discouraging hate speech, stressed on the need to discourage hate speech as failure to do so would, undoubtedly, affects various strata of our national fabrics, and indeed discourage Direct Foreign Investment that the country urgently needed right now.
At the end of the robust discussions, participants at the webinar agreed;
*That hate speech is not new to us, as it has been with us since creation, but then we need to begin moves to stem it from tearing our society apart, and instead use our media to promote national unity.
*We must identify the sources of hate speech and how to tackle it, while efforts should be made to ensure victims of hate speech report to relevant law enforcement agencies.
*Law enforcement agencies should be able to identify hate speech and be alive to their responsibilities in stemming the tide, without necessarily discouraging freedom of speech and expression.
*Government should be tolerant of opposing views and should not tag criticisms as hate speech.
*Stakeholders must be proactive in building a network of anti – hate speech crusaders, inculcate the war against hate speech in children through the education curriculum to enable the society to condemn hate speech and offer help to victims of hate speech.
*Journalists should be trained in conflict reporting and multicultural awareness campaign while media organizations should establish monitoring and evaluation units to sensitize the audience to the dangers of hate speech.
*It is dangerous to condone unwholesome practices or to be passive to the menace of hate speech because it is capable of snowballing into violence with unbearable consequences.
*The fight against hate speech is a collective responsibility.
*Participants at the Seminar also hinged on the need to ensure proper regulations of related entertainment industry with a view to curtailing induced hate-speeches in comics’ performances.
*NGOs must become the whistleblowers in the vanguard against hate-speech with a view to acting as checks on the operators and regulators in the Media industry
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