Censored Colombian social media star: “Everyone has the right to freely share their beliefs”
- Colombian Constitutional Court decides to review social media star’s censorship case
- Human rights organization ADF International welcomes opportunity to affirm the right to freedom of expression
COLOMBIA (9 July 2021) – The Colombian Constitutional Court has agreed to review the case of Colombian social media star Erika “Kika” Nieto. There are high hopes for a positive ruling affirming freedom of speech. The Court’s ruling will affect whether we are allowed to share Christian views on social media. Responding to a viewer’s question in an “Ask Me Anything” video, Nieto had shared her beliefs on marriage while expressing tolerance for other views. After an activist complained about her statement, a national court denied her right to freedom of expression by ordering her to remove the video. Nieto is now hoping that the Colombian Constitutional Court will uphold her right to freely share her beliefs online.
“Everyone has the right to freely share their beliefs in public. I’m glad the Constitutional Court has decided to review my case. I hope they will uphold everyone’s right to speak freely. Nobody should have to be afraid of censorship or criminal sanctions for voicing their deeply held beliefs. By speaking out, I hope to encourage debate and inspire more tolerance of different views,” said Nieto.
Censored for sharing Christian convictions
Answering a follower’s question on her YouTube video, Nieto shared her beliefs about marriage as between a man and a woman with her millions of followers. She said: “God created man and woman so that they could be with each other. I don’t consider men being with men or women being with women to be good, but I tolerate that.”*
“It is a hallmark of a free society that all persons are able to speak freely on what they believe to be right and good, especially on matters of public importance. Nieto’s right to publicly express her views is not only protected by the Colombian Constitution but guaranteed by every major human rights treaty. If we value a free and vibrant society, we must always choose debate over censorship. Ultimately, people and democracy suffer when voices are silenced,” said Tomás Henríquez, Director of Advocacy, Latin America and the Caribbean for ADF International, a human rights organization supporting Kika Nieto’s case.
Activists filed legal complaint
There is good reason to think the Colombian Constitutional Court will uphold Nieto’s right to freedom of speech. In a previous case that arose from the same video, the Court has already ruled that Nieto’s speech on marriage is constitutionally protected. However, another activist took Nieto to court, complaining that this same comment about marriage was offensive and discriminatory. This time, a lower court considered the video to contain “hate speech” and thus ordered its removal from YouTube. The Colombian Constitutional Court has now decided to review the lower court’s ruling.
The Colombian NGO Nueva Democracia — a civil society platform advocating for freedom of expression and other fundamental rights — is representing Nieto in the current case. They now ask the Constitutional Court to uphold fundamental freedoms and overturn the lower court’s decision. ADF International is supporting Nueva Democracia.
“Cancel culture” poses a serious thread worldwide
Nieto is not the only one facing legal challenges for publicly expressing her beliefs about marriage on social media. In Finland, former Minister of the Interior and serving Member of Parliament, Päivi Räsänen, faces several criminal charges after sharing her deeply held beliefs in a tweet. The medical doctor, mother of five and grandmother of six, publicly voiced her opinion on family and marriage. The Finnish Prosecutor General has brought three criminal charges against her. Räsänen now faces two years of imprisonment for each alleged crime. ADF International is supporting Räsänen in defending her right to freedom of speech.
“Freedom of speech is a fundamental right that is coming under increasing fire in today’s ‘cancel culture’. Both Nieto’s and Räsänen’s cases show that the freedom to share what we believe must be properly protected. Whether someone agrees or disagrees with certain views, censorship inevitably leads down a dangerous path. Censorship creates fear, freedom of speech fosters a vibrant civil society,” said Robert Clarke, Deputy Director of ADF International.
* translated from Spanish