Czech court finds author of death threats against human rights defenders committed a politically-motivated hate crime
The In IUSTITIA organization, the only one of its kind in the Czech Republic to offer services meeting the specific needs of hate crime victims, has secured a first-instance verdict against a man who has been making verbal threats against its employees. Since August of last year the perpetrator has been repeatedly verbally threatening the organization's staff with assault and death and has now been convicted and sentenced by the District Court for Prague 6; the verdict has yet to take effect.
The decision is absolutely exceptional, as it marks the first time a Czech court has convicted a perpetrator of committing a hate crime because the assault was directed against a human rights defender for performing such work. The perpetrator was fined CZK 30 000 [EUR 1 200].
The defendant, the injured party and the prosecutor are all considering whether to appeal. The incidents began after In IUSTITIA published an analytical report in August 2017 about hate crimes committed through online social networks.
As a consequence of publishing that analysis the organization was targeted with threats through online social networks by dozens of perpetrators. The director of the organization filed criminal reports against the most serious such verbal attacks.
One of those perpetrators was brought before the court yesterday. The remarks the defendant made about the director of In IUSTITIA and the nonprofit organization itself were, for example:
- The cleanest thing to do would be to shoot it up there, I guess I'll watch that delicious video with Mr Breivik in it.
- It's that stinky cunt Kalibová.
- Hopefully war will break out so we can disfigure these swine with impunity.
- It's not clear to me why somebody hasn't run her over with a car yet.
- I will publish his name and photo here and ultimately I'll shoot him dead, run him over with a car and throw him into a septic tank.
- I hope I succeed in identifying that informing swine and publishing her name and photo here and then humiliating her in some especially cruel, perfidious way.
During yesterday's hearing the perpetrator was convicted of felony violence against a group and its individual members, a crime committed by anybody who threatens death or violence against another because of the victim's race, nationality, ethnic affiliation, faith or political convictions. It was the protected ground of political convictions that played the main role in this decision.
The court found that In IUSTITIA and its director had been attacked because of the perperator's prejudice against human rights defenders, specifically, against the democratic legal order they represent. In that sense, this is the very first case of its kind.
"The perpetrators' attacks were actually very intensive. He did not stop them after he had been found guilty of a misdemeanor, on the contrary, he escalated them. I consider the court's decision to correspond to the fact that the perpetrator attacked me and my colleagues because of our profession, the fact that we actively aid hate crime victims and defend human rights in the Czech Republic," said Klára Kalibová, director of In IUSTITIA.
In IUSTITIA is not the only organization in the Czech Republic that has been attacked for performing its profession. "I perceive a difference among the attacks committed against the leaders of nonprofit sector groups from the standpoint of gender," Kalibová said.
"My male colleagues are not attacked with respect to their sexuality or their appearance as a woman in a leading position," the human rights defender said. She included details of the impact of the perpetrator's criminal activity in her concluding statement to the court: "... in impact statements people customarily emphasize how the crime has impacted their private lives. I became the target of this crime because of my profession, one that is correct, honest, and honorable, one that I chose after graduating from the law faculty as difficult, but just as meaningful as the profession of judge or prosecutor. I am convinced that, just like those two professions, my profession is also a public service to those who are vulnerable, who are weak, and who are being threatened by people like the defendant. We all deserve protection."
Attorney Petra Vytejčková, representing Kalibová, said in her concluding remarks: "... in a civilized society, disagreement with the opinions of others is legitimate and necessary. However, such disagreement must be expressed through rhetoric that is neither aggressive, nor offensive, nor threatening. The behavior of the perpetrator met the definition of a felony and sparked justified concern for the health and life of my client. I welcome the court's decision."
In IUSTITIA is the only advisory center for victims of bias crimes in the Czech Republic. In addition to providing direct legal and social aid to people who have been assaulted either physically or verbally, offline or online, the organization is dedicated to analytical work, education and research.
The organization is a registered provider of legal information and social services. Kalibová holds the Alice G. Masaryk Award for Human Rights Defenders and is, among other things, a member of the advisory board of the International Network for Hate Studies.
- Czech Constitutional Court receives complaint about election campaign, proposals for "fertilization" of "gypsies" recur in local media discussion
- Czech Foreign Minister Petříček wants a foreign policy that advocates for human rights
- Czech court fines seven racists for approving of the murder of a Romani man, but one is appealing - for the publicity
- Romani musician Ida Kelarová on verdict against gunman: We're disappointed the Czech court ignored the racist motivation
- Czech lower courts consider online comment calling for asylum-seekers to be set on fire a misdemeanor, Supreme Court to rule now
- ROMEA's scholarship recipients encouraged to motivate those around them
- European Roma Rights Centre: Czech President's remarks were antigypsyist hate speech
- Czech school targeted with hate over its non-white first-graders last year receives donation of laptop computers
- Czech convicted of racially-motivated murder of Romani man is running for mayor
- Amateur photo contest won with images of Romani people sparks hateful reactions on Czech internet
- Czech politician spreads hateful racist hoaxes online against dark-skinned footballers, Muslims and Roma
- Czech Police indict bodybuilder who praised shooting of Romani man and made his own death threats
- New Zealand grants asylum to family from Czech Republic with non-Romani and Romani members because of neo-Nazi death threats
- Czech court fines online racists a mere EUR 4 for death threats against Romani celebrity
- Roma take to the streets to show political preferences on Czech state holiday
- Czech President and Governor of Olomouc Region doubt whether attack on African man in Prague was racially motivated
- Racially-motivated attack by football fans on African man on a tram in the Czech capital - nobody came to his aid
- Czech Police report low turnout for ultra-right event featuring speaker convicted of the racially-motivated murder of a Romani man
- Commentary: Paradoxes in the war on political correctness
- ROMEA: Human rights defenders backed the Roma, mayor and police backed the neo-Nazis in Nový Bydžov
- Czech town sees 6 000 people attend Romfest in runup to elections, Romani figures explained the importance of voting and warned against ultranationalists
- Czech Police charge two men over video in which one threatens to stab politician
- Czech man sentenced to three months in prison, suspended for one year, for assaulting Romani boy, but racial motivation is ignored
- Romani associations distance themselves from community member who apparently expressed desire to attack Czech politician
- Mayor and police in Czech town correct the record about assault incident to make clear Romani people were not involved as first alleged
- Czech citizens living abroad can vote in October elections, deadline to register at consulate or embassy is 29 August
- Austria's Die Presse: Covert racism is why Europe's Roma are worse off after COVID-19 pandemic
- Czech MPs abolish infant institutions and raise remuneration for foster parents, bill now heads to Senate
- Czech lower house elections see 22 groups in the running, no Romani-profiled parties among them
- Czech court upholds conviction for making dangerous threats after neighbor threatens to kill three Romani women and their children with an ax
- Editor-in-Chief of Czech media outlet appeals direct sentencing for publishing antigypsyist content, the case will be heard in open court
- Analysis: Welfare abuse in the Czech Republic is minimal, but in the runup to elections, politicians talk tough about it