The Ethiopian council of ministers on Friday enacted a new Media Proclamation law which governs print and broadcast media as well as to combat what it called disinformation and hate speech on social media.
“The Council of Ministers approved the draft Media Proclamation which governs print and broadcast media, also introducing a legal framework for online media. Outlining roles & responsibilities in the sector, the proclamation will bolster freedom of expression and press freedoms,”Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on facebook.
The government said disinformation and hate speech or "fake news" is posing a national threat to the country, and inflaming racial conflicts in several parts of Ethiopia.
Last februray the national parliament approves a new law that defines hate speech as rhetoric that fuels discrimination “against individuals or groups based on their nationality, ethnic and religious affiliation, sex or disabilities”.
The law permits fines of up to 100,000 Ethiopian birr ($3,100) and imprisonment for up to five years for anyone who shares or creates social media posts that are deemed to result in violence or disturbance of public order.
International rights groups said the law creates a legal means for the government to muzzle opponents.