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The Cambodian authorities announced that they have arrested 17 people since January over social media posts about the Coronavirus that the government has branded -fake news, Human Rights Watch (HRW) revealed on Tuesday.

One of those arrested earlier this month was a 14-year-old girl, who claimed in a Facebook post that three students at her school had contracted the respiratory disease, and three people had died from the virus,’’ HRW said.

Authorities released her after she made a public apology.

However, twelve people have been released as well from detention after signing pledges not  to spread fake news in the future and to apologize.

According to the Health Ministry, Cambodia has reported 87 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Reports say this includes 52 foreign nationals and 35 Cambodians, while two patients have recovered and left the hospital quarantine. No deaths have been recorded.

Senator Abdullahi Sabi, the sponsor of the controversial Hate Speech Bill said the proposed legislation is alive and will continue its journey at the National Assembly. 

Sabi, the deputy Senate Majority Whip, clarified on Tuesday that the death penalty provision on hate speech bill would be removed.

He said it would be wrong to throw away the entire bill because of the death penalty but he would propose an amendment .

The Senator, after he joined a delegation of Eminent Citizen of Niger State to meet with the President, Major General Muhammed Buhari (retd.), at the Presidential Villa spoke on the hate speech bill.

Defending the bill, he said “ Because a baby is dirty, we can’t say the baby should be thrown away with the bathwater.

He said “ the death penalty was the main issues. I will ensure that the death penalty is put away from the bill”.

Sabi added that Nigeria deserves to have hate speech bill, saying that there is so much hate speech in Nigeria.

The senator said “ if there is no law to regulate hate speech in the country, Nigeria runs the risk of becoming the next Rwanda and that a lot of inciting speeches being made in Nigeria are capable of igniting religious, ethnic or communal crises.

He added that “80 – 90 per cent” of the crises were incited through hate speech, be they religious, ethnic or communal crises”. He claimed that commotion generated by the bill last year, more Nigerian had come to terms with his position that the bill was relevant.

The lawmaker said he hopes that in the days ahead, the bill would receive more support to scale through by the National Assembly. 

The bill passed the first reading on the floor of the senate on November 12, 2019 amid controversies