Hate speech dangers are growing, says Zeid

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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

We all need to do more to combat racism, hate speech and ethnic crimes.

That's the message from UN Human Rights chief, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is marked each 21 March.

Daniel Johnson has more.

The dangers of "demonising" people based on their skin colour, nationality or religion are evident across the globe, in Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein's view.

In a statement, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights highlights xenophobic riots and violence against immigrants in South Africa.

In South Sudan, hate speech has brought the country to the brink of all-out ethnic war, he continues.

While in Myanmar, the Rohingya Muslims have suffered what Zeid calls "appalling violations" – a reference to an official security operation against the minority that's seen reports of children killed and mass rape.

On 21 March, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the UN Human Rights chief wants everyone to challenge what he calls "words of fear and loathing".

They have "real consequences", he goes on, like the sharp increase in hate crime after last year's UK referendum on EU membership or the 42 per cent rise in attacks on migrants and refugees in Germany.

In a call for more countries to at least start gathering data on racist hate crimes, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein also reminds them that states have an obligation to end racism by adopting laws that make it illegal.

It's not an attack on free speech, the UN rights chief says but, rather, recognition that the right to freedom of expression comes with responsibilities.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1’22″


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