Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, A/67/357, 7 September 2012
III. Incitement to hatred
27. In Africa, there have been violent riots (for example, in Kenya, caused by alleged election-rigging and fuelled by tribal tension, and in Nigeria, on the basis of tribal tensions), leading to the deaths of several thousand people; attacks by Muslim villagers against Coptic Christians in Egypt; and various forms of incitement to violence and hatred on the basis of sexual orientation by politicians, the media and religious leaders in Uganda, as epitomized by the tragic killing of David Kato, whose name, photograph and description had been published by the Sunday Pepper newspaper in what it described as a “killer dossier”.
B. International norms and standards
34. The principle of equality of all human beings and the right to be free from discrimination is at the heart of human rights, as reflected in article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which asserts that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. All human beings are thus entitled to the same enjoyment of all rights, without discrimination of any kind, including on the basis of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or any other status, as affirmed in article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Human Rights Committee has found that sexual orientation is included in this scope.
44. Moreover, attention is drawn to the following definitions that have been developed through consultations of experts and discussed at the OHCHR regional expert workshops on incitement:
(d) “Discrimination” is understood as any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, age, economic position, property, marital status, disability, or any other status that has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field of public life;
V. Conclusions and recommendations
75. There has been a worrying increase in the number of expressions of hate, incitement to violence and discrimination. Such expressions have often been compounded by politicians and the mass media, while the Internet has also facilitated the multiplication and visibility of hate speech in recent years. These trends are of concern, given that every individual human being is entitled to the same dignity and rights, including the right not to be discriminated against, regardless of national origin, social, racial, ethnic or religious background, disability, gender, sexuality or any other grounds. The promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression must, however, go hand in hand with efforts to combat intolerance, discrimination and incitement to hatred. While the right to freedom of expression can and should be restricted in extreme cases, such as incitement to genocide and incitement to hatred in accordance with international norms and principles, the right to freedom of expression contributes to exposing harms caused by prejudice, combating negative stereotypes, offering alternative views and counterpoints and creating an atmosphere of respect and understanding between peoples and communities around the world.
Link to full text of the report: Report-SRFoE-2012-eng
- 8. See www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Expression/ICCPR/Nairobi/JointSRSubmission NairobiWorkshop.pdf.↵
- 13. Its jurisprudence in this regard includes: CCPR/C/KWT/CO/2, CCPR/C/TGO/CO/4, CCPR/C/JPN/CO/5, CCPR/C/JAM/CO/3, CCPR/C/USA/CO/3/Rev.1, CCPR/CO/78/SLV, CCPR/CO/81/NAM, CCPR/C/CO/IRN/CO/3, CCPR/C/MNG/CO/5, CCPR/C/MEX/CO/5, CCPR/C/MDA/CO/2, CCPR/C/ETH/CO/1, CCPR/C/CMR/CO/4, CCPR/CO/83/GRC, CCPR/C/POL/CO/6, CCPR/C/79/Add.119, CCPR/C/RUS/CO/6, CCPR/C/UZB/CO/3, CCPR/CO/82/POL, CCPR/CO/70/TTO and CCPR/C/CHL/CO/5.↵
- 16. Based on the grounds of non-discrimination in the jurisprudence of treaty bodies, and as provided for in article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; article 1 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; article 1 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; article 1 of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families; and article 2 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.↵