The Uinted Nations Mission in South Sudan has called on political leaders both at national and local levels to systematically condemn any incident of hate speech that may occur.
This, UNMISS Director for Human rights Division , Eugene Nindorera, said should be done regardless of the political, ethnic, or religious affiliations of the perpetrators and victims.
He made the remarks during a workshop on strengthening understanding of what constitutes hate speech or incitement of violence.
Mr Nindorera told the participants that when hateful rhetoric is particularly exploited for political purposes, it can have devastating consequences for the entire community.
“That’s very important to address in the context of South Sudan and in the context also of the revitalized peace agreement.”
He applauded President Salva Kiir for a statement he made in August in which he condemned hate speech against the opposition members, when he said it was a red line under the implementation of the peace agreement.
Eugene Nindorera stated that when influential politicians counter inflammatory and divisive tones with respective dialogue, they set the example for the rest of society.
‘It is important to make people know exactly what hate speech is and how we can combat it in the context of South Sudan, he added”
He emphasized that freedom of expression is a good thing, but should not be abused.
“Freedom of expression is important but you have to know that there also some limitations. Make sure am [you are] not really going to incite violence because this is not acceptable”.
The UN Human rights official urged politicians to use their public influence and influential platforms to promote tolerance of different views and values, to create spaces for inclusive dialogue and to emphasize the importance of friendly debate.
During the workshop, the participants also discussed the role of politicians in promoting peaceful co-existence between communities in South Sudan and countering messages and rhetorics.