OrderPaperToday – A civil rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has petitioned the United Nations (UN) over a bill that seeks to restrict media freedom currently being considered by the Nigerian Senate.

In the petition addressed to Mr. David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, SERAP is requesting that the senate be prevailed upon to withdraw the contentious bill.

The petition is dated December 3rd 2015 and signed by SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni.

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SERAP said: “We are seriously concerned that the National Assembly of Nigeria will any moment from now pass a bill to jail for two years and fine anybody or group of persons who send any alleged false text message or post false message on the social media against another person.”

“SERAP is concerned that rather than increasing universal and inclusive access to the Internet for all Nigerians, the National Assembly of Nigeria is working to undermine access of citizens to the Internet. Yet, freedom of expression entails the ability to both speak and receive information, including through the social media and other generated content services such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and chat applications.

“By initiating this bill, the National Assembly is impermissibly restricting the ability of the citizens to use these tools to communicate, connect, and seek independent sources of information.

“SERAP also contends that the bill will restrain access to internet and social media, curtail the freedom of the press, and online content in illegitimate, disproportionate, or otherwise unlawful and abusive ways. The real targets of the bill are social media and human rights defenders that might be critical of government policies or report on corruption involving high ranking government officials.

“International law provides that any restriction to rights online must be provided in law, pursuant to a legitimate aim, and limited to only what is necessary and proportionate. SERAP believes that the bill falls far short of international requirements of legitimacy, necessity and proportionality.”

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