Ethiopia Passes Law That Jails People Whose Internet Posts Stir Unrest


Ethiopia’s parliament passed a law on Thursday that imposes jail terms for those people whose Internet post stir unrest, Reuters reports.

This is a move by their government to prevent violence ahead of elections that is scheduled for 16th August 2020.

This new law will fine upto 100,000 Ethiopian Birr ($3,000) and imprisonment of upto five years for anyone that shares or creates social media posts that are deemed to result in violence or disturbance of public order.

This law was passed by 297 law makers who were in favour of the bill and 23 were opposed to it. Lawmakers who were opposed to the bill said it violates the constitutional guarantee of free speech.

“Politicians or activists or others will be forced to be cautious, afriad that their speech might fall into the definition of hate speech or can be considered as false information,” Amnesty International’s Ethiopia researcher Fisseha Tekle was quoted as saying.

Governments all over the world have always seeked to gag the Internet especially during elections time. Social media is powerful since people communicate to each other better than before and this results in a lot of information being shared along. Some bad actors can use this to spread fake news or incite violence.

Ethiopia has undergone quite a change in the last two years after their Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed took office and eventually won a Nobel Peace Prize last year.

The country is not new to stifling Internet access. The have blocked Internet access for a number of things which included a state of emergency and for exam purposes.