Young Voices of Freedom of Expression

Kultur- og likestillingsministerens tale under Stopp Hatprat og TMI Academy sitt arrangement på Deichman i Oslo under statsbesøket fra Nederland 10. november

Your Majesties, Minister, Ambassadors, dear all.

This event has indeed been engaging, fruitful and rewarding for us all.

Thank you.

As already stated: Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right.

It is something we must protect.

To enhance and develop our society, we need a debate where everyone can participate freely.

We see that freedom of speech is challenged in many ways – from hate and harassment online, fake news and disinformation and threats to activists and minorities.

We see that hate speech causes fear among those who are subjected to it, and causes people to withdraw from the public space.

As a result, important voices are silenced in the public debate.

Let me be clear: This is a loss for democracy.

Hate speech erodes democratic values and respect for human rights, undermines social unity, and lays the foundation for hate crimes and violence.

In democratic societies all voices matter.

Norway has for several years had a strong commitment for freedom of expression and against hate speech.

Even the Norwegian Constitution states that we as authorities shall create conditions that facilitate open and enlightened public debate.

A freedom of expression committee has been set up and will deliver its report by August next year.

The commission will examine the extent and conditions of freedom of speech on a broad basis.

Hate speech is an issue covered in their mandate.

The Government's strategy against hate speech aims to prevent hate speech because of gender, ethnicity and religion, disability and sexual orientation.

A long-term and targeted acquisition of knowledge about hate speech is important to the Government’s efforts in this area.

Only a few weeks ago, a national competence centre for preventing and combatting hate crime was set up. This centre provides assistance to all police districts in all of Norway.

The Stop hate speech movement was launched in Norway in 2014.

You have met several of their ambassadors today.

The movement has received financial support from the Norwegian Government since that same year.

This Government will increase the efforts against online harassment.

We will continue to put these issues high on the agenda and we stand up against prejudice and discrimination with a clear voice.

Teaming up with multilateral organizations, civil society and human rights organizations is the backbone of Norway’s international strategy for freedom of expression, including when it comes to combatting hate speech.

The Netherlands and Norway share democratic values and stand together to defend freedom of expression and prevent hate speech.

This event has indeed proven this.

Therefore, I want to look further.

What more can we do?

We need to enable effective responses to the impacts of hate speech.

And we must do so in multiple ways including:

  • Strengthening intercultural dialogue and promote values of tolerance, non-discrimination, and respect for human rights.
  • We need to strengthen media and information literacy among the public.
  • And we need to keep the protection of, and respect for, human rights at the core of the dialogue and cooperation nationally and internationally.

TMI from the Netherlands and Stop hate speech from Norway have contributed greatly to this event.

In their daily efforts they contribute to empowering young people in the fight for freedom of expression and against hate speech.

I am impressed by the efforts from young people in both our countries.

I believe that this event has given both our nations a platform for raising awareness, encouraging dialogue and it inspires us in finding solutions for our future efforts – both nationally and internationally.

Thank you for your attention