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HRADC condemns the use of inflammatory rhetoric

July 26, 2021 4:30 pm
Director Human Rights, Ashwin Raj. [File Photo]

The Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission strongly condemns the use of inflammatory rhetoric on social media.

Director, Ashwin Raj says such rhetoric deliberately incites violence and advocates hatred and ill will between ethnic and religious groups under the guise of freedom of expression and democratic dissent.

Raj highlights the burning of mosques and shops in Taveuni and Labasa, and the open call for violence by asking young iTaukei to convene outside parliament with any weapons to “erase these Muslims from Fiji” cannot be justified on any grounds as an act of democratic dissent through the exercise of free expression.

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He adds the constitutional right to freedom of speech, expression, thought, opinion, and publication does not protect incitement to cause harm or violence or the advocacy of hatred on prohibited grounds of discrimination.

The director says the Commission implores on all Members of Parliament, whatever the ideological disposition or political proclivity, to be voices of moderation.

He highlights they must constructively engage with the body of law through the institution of parliament in expressing their dissent and divergent perspectives on the proposed amendments to the Land Bill or any other matters of national interest.

Raj stresses parliamentary privilege does not extend outside the parliamentary floor and must not be used at any time to justify the advocacy of hatred.

He highlights the sentiments that the MPs words carry has a great impact on the minds of ordinary Fijians who engage with their social media content.

Those who provide opinion on matters of national importance cannot rely on their mere defense that it is his or her opinion when that opinion contains factual inaccuracies or content which is maliciously intended to mislead Fijians.

Raj says Members of Parliament must, in no unequivocal terms, call out those who are resorting to inflammatory rhetoric with the intent of inciting violence and advocating ill will between ethnic and religious communities.

He stresses they must use the august house as a platform to bring back decorum to democratic debate and urge their followers to use the institutions of democracy, and not violence and hatred to effect change.

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