The Council of Ministers in Ethiopia over the weekend approved the Computer Crime proclamation Bill.
According to a report by the state-run Fana broadcasting corporate reports, the bill was drafted and sponsored by the Attorney General of Ethiopia to combat fake news and hate speech in the country.
The approval of the bill has been frowned on by the opposition who claim the bill abuses the rights of citizens to free speech and information. Many critics argue that the real reason for the bill was to restrict the conversations of citizens about government, especially across social media platforms.
Interestingly, the Computer Crime proclamation bill will not be sent to the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HoPR) for final approval, the council has said.
“It is deemed necessary to enact the law because the nation cannot address problems arising from hate speeches and fake news with existing laws,” a statement issued from the council of ministers said.
Social media is one of the main avenues through which users have incited ethically tinged violence leading to deaths and displacements.
The country is currently listed among global leaders in the area of internally displaced people. Ethiopia, as Africa’s second-most populous nation, had a restrictive media space before April 2018 and the coming into office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Social media has however been a blessing and headache for Abiy. His office has effectively used Twitter and Facebook to project work being done by the government.
But social media has also been blamed for the rise in the spread of fake news and the peddling of hate speech.
With scant details on the said bill, it is expected to receive some backlash from journalists and human rights activists especially.
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