Cameroon: 'Citizens Should Take Hate Speech Perpetrators to Court'

interview

Professor Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, Political Scientist.

Despite government efforts through creating institutions, enacting laws and carrying out constant awareness creation campaigns, the hate speech curve continues to rise in Cameroon. What explains this situation?

Hate speech is a form of unpatriotic behaviour on the part of citizens. It is a form of social deviance and is unhealthy for the peace and tranquillity of the nation. It tends to create insecurity, tension, exclusion and social strife. The consequences of hate speech are negative. Those to which hate speech is addressed are likely to react negatively. The State has the legal, political and constitutional responsibility to put a stop to hate speech through legislation and implementation of the laws and creation of institutions. Every citizen has the patriotic duty to ensure that in their language and comportment, they are supposed to make the other person feel included.

What has actually gone wrong?

Hate speech continues partly because institutions that are supposed to implement the law are not really seen working. For example, in the judicial institutions like courts that are supposed to implement the laws, one has not seen litigations, prosecutions, etc. It is not that judges are not doing their job. For them to prosecute, there must be litigations. Somebody, civil society or political parties have to make a case. You do not find litigations. The judges and courts implement when there are litigations. Another reason is that there is a distorted interpretation of what liberty and freedom laws are. Many citizens, civil society groups and political parties have completely misunderstood freedom. Freedom goes with responsibilities and where there are no responsibilities there is no freedom. The third reason is that we Africans tend to think that it is others who have to tell us who we are and what we are. We have to give the colour, definition and characteristics of our democracy taking into account our cultural and natural specificities. People who engage in hate speech think that they are expressing their democratic rights which unfortunately is according to someone else's definition of democracy. Some civil society and political party leaders and even some individuals have bad faith. They are not sincere, are opportunistic and egoistic. Hate speech in Cameroon takes the form of tribalism, nepotism, favouritism, fake news and misinformation with people who behave as if they are the alpha and the o...

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