Venezuela approves anti-hate media law

8 Nov 2017

Venezuela's Constituent Assembly has passed a law its authors say 'would punish messages of hate in broadcast and social media with penalties reaching 20 years in prison.' According to Jose Miguel Vivanco of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, 'The law seeks to end free speech in social media — a key space for Venezuelans to express themselves in a country with shrinking free speech avenues.' However, the Constitutional Assembly president Delcy Rodriguez, supported it 'as sending a strong message to anybody wanting to promote war. Rather, they should spread of "messages of peace," she said.' The law also prohibits targeted opposition political parties from registering with the government-controlled National Electoral Council saying that they 'promote "fascism, intolerance or national hate."'  

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The human rights basket includes online aspects of freedom of expression, privacy and data protection, rights of people with disabilities and women’s rights online. Yet, other human rights come into place in the realm of digital policy, such as children’s rights, and rights afforded to journalists and the press.

The same rights that people have offline must also be protected online is the underlying principle for human rights on the Internet, and has been firmly established by the UN General Assembly and UN Human Rights Council resolutions.

Several international instruments guarantee the right to freedom of expression. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that this right includes the freedom to hold opinion without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas. The Internet, with the opportunity it offers people to express themselves, is seen as an enabler of the exercise of this particular human right. Although these freedoms are guaranteed in global instruments and in national constitutions, in some countries freedom of expression is often curtailed through online censorship or filtering mechanisms, imposed by states, often for political reasons.

 

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