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What Is Hate Speech2016-10-12T17:02:35+00:00

What Is Hate Speech

This section will provide a brief overview of what is meant by hate speech and how the law tackles the issue of hate speech. At the end of the section there are links to a range of documents that are useful for developing an understanding on hate speech.

Hate Speech

What Is Hate Speech

This section will provide a brief overview of what is meant by hate speech and how the law tackles the issue of hate speech. At the end of the section there are links to a range of documents that are useful for developing an understanding on hate speech. There is no universal definition of hate speech. Recommendation (97) 20 on Hate Speech, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, is one of the few documents that provides a definition for hate speech holding that:

Hate speech shall be understood as covering all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance, including: intolerance expressed by aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism, discrimination and hostility against minorities, migrants and people of immigrant origin.

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Hate Speech and Free Speech

The issue of regulating hate speech is often accompanied by a discussion on free speech. Free speech is provided for in a wide range of international, European and national documents. For example, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides that everyone has the right to freedom of expression which includes the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. However, this right is not absolute since Article 10(2) provides that:

It carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime,.

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Relevant Supra-National Documents

European Union – Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA of 28 November 2008 on Combatting Certain Forms and Expressions of Racism and Xenophobia by Means of Criminal Law
Under this Framework Decision, each Member State must take the necessary measures to ensure that publicly inciting to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin, publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes are punishable offences.

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Cyprus Law

The piece of legislation regulating hate speech in Cyprus is The Combatting Certain Forms and Expressions of Racism and Xenophobia by means of Criminal Law of 2011, Law No. 134 (I)/ 2011 which was adopted to transpose the Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA. This provides that any person who deliberately transmits in public and publicly incites, in any way, violence or hatred against a group of people or a member of a group, which is determined on the basis of race, colour, religion, genealogical origin, national or ethnic origin, in such a way to cause public disorder, or that has a threatening, abusive, or offensive character, is liable up to five years of imprisonment and/or a fine of up to ten thousand Euros in case of a conviction.

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