A discussion was held on the philosophy of Freedom of Speech and how young law professionals and academics from the United Kingdom, Seychelles, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Pakistan see the exercise of this Freedom in various jurisdictions. The discussion was hosted virtually by Mazeltov – the world's first youth led think-tank on innovation and justice.
Dara Eisen, a PhD Scholar at Durham University and a researcher in international human rights law and culture participated as a panelist and argued, based on Mill's harm principle that the state can justifiably fetter freedom of speech where the level of harm experienced from offensive hateful expression is objectively extreme.
Ahmed Shafquat Hassan, Barrister at Law and a Research Assistant the Centre for Peace and Justice, BRAC University, suggested that if human beings structure themselves in societies that are inevitably unequal, it is imperative that we strive to create equitable structures to counteract the potential harms of dominant narratives that seek to further divide societies and polities.
The panel also included Barrister at Law, Gobind Pannu, who is currently working as a paralegal at Bachan & Kartar, a boutique law firm in Malaysia. Pannu said, "If freedom of speech is to be deemed as an unfettered right without any consequences for what was said, it would lead to turmoil in any country that it is implemented in".
An accredited mediator with ADRODR International based in Seychelles, Angelique Juliette, highlighted that free speech across the continent of Africa is a vital right for its people; this is evidenced through the African Charter on Human Rights as well as the continued efforts of its individual countries in ensuring this right is integrated in its democratic and juridical setting.
Lastly, the Founder of Mazeltov, Barrister and Lecturer of Law, Rufruf Chaudhary linked the freedom of speech to the freedom to access information. She highlighted that to exercise freedom of speech responsibly, individuals need to have access to accurate information from the state. Chaudhary also emphasised that legislations need to be redrafted to provide public with a better sense of when their right of Freedom of Speech can be constrained.
Participants from all over the world attended the informative discussion. Justice Refat Ahmed, Supreme Court of Bangladesh (High Court Division) said, "the discussants highlight the constant tension between the state, society and the individual in defining both the parameters and perimeter of the notion of 'freedom of speech and expression'". Puruesh Chaudhary, Founding CEO Foresight Lab, found the discussion insightful as it ranged from the impact of emerging technologies on free speech, to how "harm" is structured in different parts of the world.
Mazeltov is devoted to developing a global knowledge repository on the human challenges and infrastructure confines. The think-tank develops solutions by examining and debating public policy issues with experts in respective countries. The organisation runs the initiative "Innovation and Justice" to create a global dialogue on novel justice processes, services, platforms, to help nations around the world achieve Sustainable Development Goals.
Event Report by Ahmed Shafquat Hassan, Research Assistant, Centre for Peace and Justice, Brac University