The Congolese NGOs CVPD and Blessed Aid have been working with GAAMAC since 2022 to combat hate speech and incitement to violence in the east of the country. An initial activity funded by GAAMAC equipped 35 community leaders to raise awareness, in their turn, among peers.
Therefore it was one of these community leaders, Sawy Baeni, who led the latest training. A lawyer at the Goma bar, he spoke on 31 March 2023 to around fifty students at the University of Goma: “When people say, for example, that all Tutsis are criminals, all Hutus are genocidaires, all Shi are thieves and liars, etc., this is not acceptable. Such speeches are prohibited by international law and by several states, including the DRC.”
In addition to the legal framework prohibiting speech that incites hatred and violence – notably Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – Me Baeni reminded participants of the role of hate speech in the commission of mass atrocities.
Everyone can contribute to curbing hate speech
The students were then asked to reflect in small groups on the following questions:
- What are the root causes of hate speech?
- What are the societal consequences of hate speech?
- What actions can be taken against hate speech?
This last question gave rise to several ideas that the students could put into practice themselves, such as avoiding participating in hate-based meetings, not spreading inciting content or remaining tolerant despite cultural, ethnic or religious differences.
At the end of the training, each participant pledged to do their part to curb the spread of hate speech. To make this pledge visible, each participant was given a T-shirt “Stop hate speech in the Democratic Republic of Congo”.
CVPD and Blessed Aid are members of the GAAMAC Africa Working Group. To see all its members, click here.