New anti-racism documents on the European agenda
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After six years of debates in trying to reach an agreement, the European
Council will adopt a Framework decision that makes incitement to racism and
xenophobia a crime in all the EU members states. At the same time, five MEPs
promoted a declaration that asks for an increased involvement of the ISPs in
the fight against hate webpages.
The text of the new Framework decision on Racism and Xenophobia has been
agreed by the Justice and Interior Ministers from EU, that have reached a
compromise, thus making the incitement to racism a crime that should be
punished by criminal penalties of 1-3 years of imprisonment. However the
member countries may “choose to punish only conduct which is either carried
out in a manner likely to disturb public order or which is threatening,
abusive or insulting.”
The new agreed text does not include controversial terms such as
Holocaust or crimes under the Stalin regime and makes reference to the
“crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes as defined in
the Statute of the International Criminal Court” or “crimes defined by the
Tribunal of Nüremberg”. However, the legislation in some member countries
(such as Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Poland and Romania) already
targets the Holocaust denial.
At the same time, a written Declaration on Race Hate on the Internet was
submitted to the Parliament on 23 April 2007 by a group of five deputies
from the EPP, Socialist, Alde and GUE groups .
The declaration calls for all “Internet service providers to include
provisions on hate in their terms of service”, but does not indicate if it
refers to hosting companies or Internet access providers. At the same time
the declaration does not address the delicate question on what terms should
an ISP decide if a content is considered racist under their national law,
an issue largely debated in other OSCE or UN meetings.
The declaration also calls on the EU Member States to sign and ratify the
Council of Europe Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime,
concerning the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature and
on the European Commission to enhance dedicated activities on hate through
its Safer Internet Plus Programme.
The five MEPs ask “to learn from international good practice in the USA”,
despite the fact that most of the anti-Semitic webpages are hosted in the
United States and protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.
EU agrees breakthrough hate-crime law (20.04.2007)
EU criminalises racial hatred (20.04.2007)
Providers are called on to do more against “hate pages” on the Web
Written Declaration on race hate on the Internet (23.04.2007)
EDRI-gram: Combating Racism on Internet (2.02.2006)