Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Sulemana Braimah, has called on government and stakeholders to institute measures to deal with problems of hate speech.
According to him, Ghana’s democracy may have endured and withstood the challenges and implications of corruption, bad governance and weak public institutions, however, he stated that the country may not have the capacity to endure yet another threat as politics of hate speech.
Nonetheless, Mr Braimah stated that the early signs are very clear, as there is imminent political hate speech.
“The truth is that we cannot afford to wait for a full-blown hate speech pandemic before we act. We have to admit that our democracy already has serious underlying conditions that will make a hate speech pandemic very disastrous for us. We therefore have to act now by adopting all the preventive measures necessary to deal with the problem of hate speech.”Sulemana Braimah
Impact of hate speech in the country
Speaking on the theme: ‘Media, Hate Speech and Democratic Consolidation In Ghana’, Mr Braimah noted that the Media Foundation For West Africa has a deep concern about the problem of hate speech.
This, he explained, is the reason for stakeholders to come together to support and elevate ongoing discussion about the problem in Ghana, and especially within the context of Ghana’s democracy and next year’s elections.
“It is our view that there cannot be a better way of dealing with the challenge of hate speech, than to confront the problem through a multi-stakeholder efforts. This is why we are very happy to be partnering with the national house of chiefs, national peace council and the national media commission for joining us on this journey. I must acknowledge that the national peace council for example, has taken the initiative of developing a manual that will guide our conversations going forward.”Sulemana Braimah
Furthermore, Mr Braimah expressed confidence that other stakeholders will join in the effort to root out hate speech and to keep Ghana’s democracy peaceful, resilient.
Commenting on the impact of hate speech, Mr Braimah revealed that the problem of hate speech is being fuelled by a growing number of polarization along partisan, ethnic and religious lines. The perpetration of hate speech, he noted, is also being aided by highly unregulated and highly partisan traditional media sphere.
Additionally, he highlighted the problem is also being exacerbated by the increasing access and abuse of social media platforms.
Elaborating on the potential impact of hate speech, the executive director of MFWA stated that ahead of the 2020 elections in Ghana for example, the Media Foundation documented as many as 582 incidents of indecent campaign language on radio.
“We monitored around a hundred radio stations and even on these platforms, we recorded about 582 incidents of expressions that were deemed indecent. It is significant to note that the most dominant form of such indecent expressions were 313 incidents of insulting and offensive remarks, followed by 202 incidents of vitriolic, unsubstantiated allegations and 28 incidents of comments inciting violence. While these types of expressions may not necessarily pass for a typical hate speech, they certainly constitute potent precursors for hate speech.”Sulemana Braimah
Mr Braimah further emphasized that hate speech has also been widely acknowledged as a dangerous phenomena that can undermine not only democratic values, but social stability and the overall speech of nations. In light of this, he indicated that there is significant evidence of how dire the consequences of hate speech can be, and this means Ghana should never allow hate speech to proliferate in the country.