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Hate Speech: UN, ECCAS, Others mobilize against In Central Africa

From 26 to 29 October 2021, Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon, will host a regional forum to raise awareness and build the capacity of media practitioners to prevent and combat hate speech in Central Africa. The event is organized by the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) Commission, in collaboration with the Cameroonian government, the United Nations Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa (UNCHRD-AC), the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC (UNJHRO), the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the UNESCO Office for Central Africa.

Presentations will be made by the different speakers to edify and draw the attention of participants on the impact of hate speech

The forum targets mainly journalists from professional organizations and will provide an opportunity to review the different hate words generally used in the media by participants from Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, and Chad.

Beyond this overview, the Douala Forum will focus on the different situations with regards to the dissemination of hate messages, their meaning, as well as on the tools to prevent and combat them. Presentations will be made by the different speakers to edify and draw the attention of participants to the impact of hate speech, which is also considered as an attack against tolerance, social cohesion, national unity and diversity. Group work will reinforce reflections on specific aspects and facilitate discussions on the development of a regional strategy to prevent and fight against hate speech by the media in Central Africa. Participants will draw inspiration, among others, from the United Nations strategy and Plan of action to Combat Hate Speech. Journalists from the subregion would also consider adopting an ad hoc self-regulatory instrument aimed at committing them to prioritize freedom of expression at the service of peace, particularly through media productions that emphasize constructive criticism.

The United Nations and its partners stand ready to accompany the media in this perspective and to support ECCAS in achieving its objectives regarding the development of a regional strategy against hate speech in Central Africa which is one of its key priorities for 2022. Following this workshop in Douala, a second Forum (communication regulatory bodies) is planned in Ndjamena (Chad) and the third one in Kinshasa (DRC) regrouping media practitioners, regulatory bodies and other key actors to refine and adapt the regional strategy.

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