For a good reason, Ghanaians should try as much as possible to avoid issuing threats or issuing hate speeches in whatever form to individuals or group of persons.
The simple reason being that whatever threats one issue to an individual or group of persons or any form of hate speech he makes, when reported would be charged for having committed such a crime which is considered as a serious crime in America and Canada.
It is so sad to observe how some immigrants, for the past twenty years or more fought to be permitted in Canada but lost their case and were deported out of the country after being charged of hate speech crime.
Before the hearing of the election petition case at the Supreme Court of Ghana, I managed to put an article out there trying to raise an awareness of hate speech which has become a common practice in the country and the need to control it.
No body seemed to be bothered about it as the insults kept flying in the sky like scud missiles hitting their targets and creating tension in the country. Politicians in particular from all the political parties began to chew insults like a gum.
Then the hearing of the election petition began still the insults were coming and no one could stop it. A stern warning was issued by the Supreme Court judges sitting on the case to would be contemnors.
It did not stop until Sammy Awuku was made to face the judges. Luckily he was made to go scot free. Unfortunately the drag net caught my very friend Ken Kuranchie who could not come out of it which I thought would be so deterrent to others but did not.
The then NPP general secretary Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie was also caught in the drag net but had to thank his stars for being fined by the court on contemptuous statements. That did not deterred people like Anita De-Sooso from making hate speech.
WHAT IS A HATE SPEECH?
Hate speech is outside the law, communication that vilifies a person or a group based on discrimination against that person or group.
In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture, or conduct, writing or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disposes or intimidates a protected individual or group.
The law may identify a protected individual or a protected group by certain characters. In some countries, a victim of hate speech may seek redress under civil law, criminal law or both.
A website that uses hate speech is called a hate site. Most of these contain internet forums and news briefs that emphasize a particular viewpoint.
A CASE IN POINT
On August 6, 2013, The Toronto Sun newspaper reported that the Toronto Police was investigating a hate speech, after a speaker of a controversial anti-Israeli rally said Jews must vacate that country or be shot dead.
According to the story, the centre for Israel and Jews Affairs [CIJA], the group claiming to have complained to police identified the speaker as Elias Hazineh who issued the hate speech at Queens Park in Toronto.
The event featured the speaker who in video footage insisted that Jews must leave Israel’s heartland or face death.
Here in the story, the organizers of Al-Quds, an international event started 34 years ago by the Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini to mark the first Friday of Ramadan decided to mark the event in Toronto with a rally but were not permitted because an annual Caribbean Festival was coming up.
They went ahead and held the rally which did not break any law. However, the speech that was delivered by Elias Hazineh, as was recorded on tape could pass as a hate speech therefore the CIJA complaining to the police to investigate and punish according to law.
Main article: Hate speech laws in Canada
In Canada, advocating genocide or inciting hatred against any ‘identifiable group’ is an indictable offence under the Criminal Code of Canada with maximum prison terms of two to fourteen years. An ‘identifiable group’ is defined as ‘any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.’ It makes exceptions for cases of statements of truth, and subjects of public debate and religious doctrine. The landmark judicial decision on the constitutionality of this law was R. v. Keegstra (1990).
In Anita De-Sooso’s case, the report has it that she threatened a foreign citizen Michelle McGowan which made her to report the matter to the Home Department and FBI that declared Anita De-Sooso not permitted to travel to America.
Read the speech as was reported to have been made by the NDC woman,” Hello Michelle, this is Anita again. I was expecting you at the police station, you were not there. So please I’m giving your number to a man working at the Flagstaff House (Presidency) and he will like you to show us the Frances Gyimah that you claim she works here. Thank you. And if you if dare not call, we will look for you everywhere that you are because we will not allow you to destroy our dear President’s name; thank you. This is Anita De Sooso”.
AFTER THE SUPREME COURT ELECTION PETITION CASE
One thing that the Supreme Court that sat on the election petition was ale to do was establishing judicial control over politicians and civilians alike that made hate speeches or insults that could cause chaos in the country.
But after the Supreme Court has completed its work and ruling passed people were left off the hook to make any speech be it insulting or hateful and went away with it.
This is what the framers of our constitution have to take note of and start planning how best to uproot or better still control hate speeches in the country for full democracy to thrive.
The Supreme Court that heard the election petition made hate speakers kept mute but it did not last long in keeping them mute from making hate speeches that could cause chaos in the country?
If there is a law in the country that bars hate speeches let the law makers make all aware of it and the punishment that goes with it. If there is no law let us all come together and enact laws that will solve the canker once and for all.
Hate speech or issuing threats is a chargeable offence when committed in North America