Czech Constitutional Court: Human rights defender has to count on "frustrated" people sending her death threats
Working in a nonprofit organization aiding victims of criminal activity and defending human rights is worthy of respect but also requires "civic bravery". The Czech Constitutional Court sent that message in its ruling rejecting a complaint filed by Klára Kalibová of the In IUSTITIA organization, which aids hate crime victims, saying that staffers at such organizations must count on becoming the targets "of interest among persons of limited vision, the frustrated and the immature".
Kalibová was the injured party in a criminal proceedings against Miroslav Cirnfus because of his Facebook posts expressing his opinions about her. The first-instance verdict of the District Court for Prague 6 fined Cirnfus CZK 30 000 [EUR 1 200] for his behavior.
The court concluded that Cirnfus had threatened Kalibová with bodily harm. One of the posts made the hyperbolic, vulgar mention of the option of "poisoning" the organization with Novichok.
In another post featuring an image of a head with knives stabbed into it, Cirnfus wrote that he hoped "Miss Nonprofit" would suffer "a touch of migraine" for at least 10 years. The appeals venue, the Municipal Court in Prague, then overturned the first-instance verdict and sent the case to the Prague 10 Municipal Department Authority as a misdemeanor for them to handle.
The appellate court did not find the behavior of Cirnfus to have risen to that of a felony. According to Kalibová's complaint to the Constitutional Court, the overturning of the first-instance verdict indicated that the state has abandoned the principle of protecting citizens' privacy and safety.
The decision by the Municipal Court in Prague is said to have significantly weakened the injured party's faith in the democratic rule of law in the Czech Republic. The Constitutional Court called her complaint unjustified.
The Constitutional Court said that while it seemed to them that in some respects the conclusions of the first-instance court captured the behavior of the defendant more exactly, that in and of itself was not a reason to overturn the ruling of the appeals court. The Constitutional Court reminded the plaintiff that there is no subjective right of any injured party to be guaranteed that a specific alleged perpetrator will be criminally prosecuted.
At the same time, the Constitutional Court's resolution, which was authored by rapporteur David Uhlíř, states that Kalibová's activity in the nonprofit involved with "aiding the victims of criminal activity and actively defending human rights" is "certainly worthy of respect". The resolution states: "[Such activity] also requires civic bravery, as on the Internet and in the public space [such persons] must doubtless also count on becoming the target of interest of persons of limited vision, the frustrated and the immature, those dissatisfied with the world around them - which is, judging by the vulgar outbursts on social media, also the case of the accused in this matter."
According to reporting about the first-instance verdict by the HateFree website, a project of the Office of the Czech Government, the wave of hateful posts against In IUSTITIA followed the organization publishing a report dedicated exactly to hatred on social media. Women working for the organization were targeted in particular.
"My male colleagues are hardly ever targeted by attacks of this kind against their sexuality or their appearance, compared to the women in leading positions," Kalibová told the HateFree website. Cirnfus testified to the courts that he had never directly contacted Kalibová and that the controversial posts were intended for his friends and the people with whom he communicates on Facebook.
He also claimed that his use of vulgar speech is normal because he is from the working class. After his successful appeal he made a publicly available Facebook post calling Kalibová a "despicable person, a louse in the nation's pelt, a parasitic pest."
"The Constitutional Court does not share the complainant's opinion that she has no legal instruments facilitating her effective defense against the perpetrator's willful behavior or that the state has abandoned the defense of her dignity, honor and good name. The court merely decided that the behavior of the defendant did not rise to the level of a felony," the ruling states.
- Czech Constitutional Court finds lower instance was wrong not to consider Romani celebrity subjected to online hate an injured party
- Czech Constitutional Court rejects complaint about hateful election campaigns, but agrees they were unethical
- Czech Constitutional Court upholds requirement for supermarket chains to donate to food banks
- Czech Constitutional Court to review controversial local ordinance about sitting in public
- Czech Constitutional Court receives complaint about election campaign, proposals for "fertilization" of "gypsies" recur in local media discussion
- Czech Constitutional Court president: Ethnic and national self-centeredness and xenophobia are a threat to Europe
- Czech Constitutional Court rejects complaint from neo-Nazi convicted of 2012 arson
- Czech Constitutional Court: Complaint against decision to buy pig farm on Romani genocide site is inadmissable
- Czech city ignores Constitutional Court and refuses to abolish ordinance banning sitting outdoors
- Czech Constitutional Court receives complaint over buyout of pig farm on Romani genocide site
- Romani celebrity files complaint with Czech Constitutional Court over lower court rejection of his victimization by racist threats
- Czech senators want Constitutional Court to address housing benefit legislation
- Czech Constitutional Court decides local ordinances that ban sitting anywhere but on a bench are unconstitutional
- Czech Constitutional Court rejects complaint from municipality defending its 2006 eviction of Romani residents
- Czech court decides it was unconstitutional for family from Kosovo to be detained in Bělá-Jezová deportation facility
- Czech Constitutional Court upholds suspended sentence for Nazi symbol on vehicle
- Local councilor convicted of drugs charge, Czech Constitutional Court says he should not have held been in custody
- Czech Constitutional Court receives motion to abolish inclusion in amendment to Schools Act
- Czech ombudswoman: Haters online frequently refuse to admit to themselves that they could be breaking the law
- Zdeněk Ryšavý: Online hate - what can we do? Welcoming remarks at the 2019 Annual Conference of the International Network against Cyber Hate (INACH)
- LIVE BROADCAST: International Conference on Antigypsyism and Hate Speech Online
- European experts say hatred online endangers democracy, nonprofits are monitoring social media response to it
- Czech President Havel protested against the wall separating non-Roma from Roma on Matiční Street 20 years ago
- Czech PM says Government will not change the financing conditions for nonprofits drawing EU money
- International Network against Cyber Hate and ROMEA hold conference on antigypsyism and online hate in Czech capital
- Czech Prosecutor General insists online hate speech is a felony, Supreme Court agrees
- Czech Finance Ministry proposes all EU financing for social projects be provided ex-post, which could cut nonprofits off from those resources
- Czech Police, prosecutors intensively focus on online haters, number of prosecutions rising
- French lawmaker, victimized herself by online hate, drafts law against it
- Czech descendants of WWII resistance fighters demand senator resign over speech at Holocaust memorial