Freedom of Speech, expression and publication is not an absolute right consistent with International Human Rights Law.

This was revealed by the Director of Human Rights and Anti-discrimination Commission Ashwin Raj  on the session titled “Transformative Social Media” at the 2019 TOPEX Conference in Nadi last Saturday.

He said social media is not the last platform for democracy and some believed that the need for online safety and the rise of hate speech online is the result of draconian media laws, oppressive environment and shrinking civic space.

Meanwhile, Suva lawyer Jon Apted said social media enhances democracy and that it has shifted power balance in society significantly from established institutions to individuals.

Apted said regulations on freedom of speech and expression need to be constructive and not all cultural conflicts online is bad.

He said these incidents express real divisions in communities and present opportunities to be dealt with and resolved.

Online Safety Commissioner Anne Dunn said Fiji have not necessarily defined what ‘speaking your mind online ‘ is and although there are laws and policies in place, these mechanisms do not translate online.

Six months after the establishment of the Online Safety Commission 70 percent of the complaints received were from female and 30 percent were from male.

And complaints were based on issues of cyber-bullying, revenge porn and defamation.

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