Hate Speech: A study of Pakistan’s Cyberspace

Karachi, June 07, 2014: We are very pleased to share with you the Hate Speech: A Study of Pakistan's Cyberspace. We have undertaken this study as a natural extension of the regional dialogue on freedom of expression for civil liberties organized by us in Bangkok in November 2013. The dialogue was held under the stewardship of Mr. Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. This study is developed under the framework and previous work by Mr. Frank La Rue and Article19.

We often see Freedom of Expression, an inviolable fundamental human right, being fettered in false paradigms of morality, security, national interest, or obscenity etc. For the reason that speech is regularly gagged in Pakistan under these pretexts, we felt it important to study online hate speech in Pakistan to identify it as something quite distinct from the excuses often used to muzzle free expression. We believe that hate speech is the only real threat to free expression in Pakistan. This study, therefore, attempts to define hate speech based on Mr. La Rue’s recommendations and obtain some idea of its incidence in the country.
 
It is important that hate speech is clearly defined, and not confused with subjective ideas such as national security, religious sentiment, morality or decency etc.
 
We are proud to say that this research study is the first in Pakistan on this subject, and will form the basis for many more such studies to take this important work further. A lot of work in the coming years needs to be done in this area to ensure that the threat of hate speech does not impinge upon the fundamental rights and freedoms we hold so dear.
 
Bytes for All, Pakistan extends its sincere gratitude to Jahanzaib Haque for leading this research, and to the B4A team for its support and invaluable input. We must also thank Annie Zaman and Rahma Mian for helping to review this report. Lastly, we look forward to your feedback that will help us further build upon this reseach. 
 
 
 
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About Bytes for All, Pakistan
 
Bytes for All (B4A), Pakistan is a human rights organization and a network of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) professionals and practitioners. It experiments and organizes debate on the relevance of ICTs for sustainable development and strengthening social justice movements in the country. Its mission is “ICTs for development, democracy and social justice”. www.bytesforall.pk
 
For more information:
 
Bytes for All, Pakistan
Islamabad, Pakistan
 
email: info[at]bytesforall.pk
Tel. +92 51 2110494-9