NHRC raise alarm over controversial Social Media Bill



i. Bill Fails Human Rights Impact Assessment Test:

Under the mandate of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), every bill in Parliament should undergo a human rights
impact assessment test to consider whether such a bill improves or reduces the enjoyment of human rights in the country.

The proposed bill on Internet Falsehood, Manipulation and other Related Matters falls short of the test of improvement on the present standards of enjoyment of human rights. It rather detracts from the current standard of enjoyment of human rights and cannot be supported by the Commission and well-meaning Nigerians. It is aimed to limiting the civic space in Nigeria and will not do this country any good.

Existing laws in place should be used to cure whatever mischief is sought to be corrected by social media behavior.

ii. The Bill Undermines Human Rights Especially S.37 and 39 of the 1999 Constitution FRN.

The Bill is replete with provisions for the protection of national security, public health, public safety, public finances, and bilateral relations with other countries or influencing the outcome of elections to any office and so forth. The language used in framing offences in the bill can target any legitimate, honest expression and can be easily stretched to come under the ambit of the stipulated offences.

Example, there are no parameters for gauging when a statement has influenced the outcome of an election or hurt the bilateral relations between Nigeria and other sovereign nations. Clear links between online expressions and electoral outcomes should be established for standard setting.

Furthermore, the interpretation section of the bill is silent on the definition of these terms. This can lead to abuse.

The bill contains provisions of bad precedent from Singapore whose government is synonymous with dictatorship, impunity and regime protection. It will be a bad precedent violative of human rights for

Nigeria to copy this legislation from Singapore that has grossly limited its civic space.

iii. The Bill Repeats Provisions of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc) Act of 2015 Comparing the provisions of the Cybercrimes Act of 2015 with the proposed Social Media Bill 2019, the Commission notes that they not only share similar objectives, but their provisions are also markedly repetitive. Not only that, some provisions of the Social Media Bill reproduced certain sections of the Cybercrimes Act verbatim, with only minimal modifications here and there.

Sections 1, 3, 4 and 5 of the Socia Media Bill merely regurgitates Section 22 of the Cybercrimes Act .

Tony Ojukwu esq
Executive Secretary

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