Hate Speech Should Be Punished, Not Just Removed

By 13 November 2019

ZAGREB, November 13, 2019 - The Human Rights House on Wednesday organised a round table discussion at which it was said that dealing with the problem of hate speech required a good and broad social discussion and that hate speech should not only be removed but should also be punished.

"Hate speech constitutes a violation of human rights of marginalised groups, LGBT persons and members of ethnic minorities and it constitutes a basis for racial discrimination. That is why it is not enough to just remove it from the public arena but those who spread it should be punished," said Human Rights House programming director Ivan Novosel.

The round table discussion, held under the title "Regulating hate speech on social networks - challenges to the exercise of the freedom of expression", focused on an announced law on the prevention of undesirable behaviour on social networks. The purpose of the round table was to gain an understanding of the experiences and challenges of regulating hate speech on social networks in Germany and discuss possible challenges in the Croatian context.

Novosel warned that if the German model was copied, it could have a negative impact on the freedom of expression and operation of the media because, he claimed, experiences in Germany bore witness to the censorship of content on social networks and its removal without prosecution.

Assistant Justice Minister Vedrana Šimundža-Nikolić said that a working group was studying and comparing different laws in an effort to recognise the regulations that could or should be adopted in Croatia.

She said that the laws and solutions of other countries would not be "copied" and that the ministry would follow Human Rights House discussions and use its conclusions in its future work.

She also said that on-line hate speech and similar conduct should be restricted and banned and that a way should be found at EU level to impose certain rules of conduct on social networks to prevent any hate speech and intolerance.

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