ROMEA reports 10+ criminal incidents involving racist commentaries and threats on Facebook to the Czech Police
During the past two months, the ROMEA organization has reported more than 10 suspected crimes involving racist posts and threats made through the Internet in which some people discussing online have verbally assaulted minorities, Roma included. In four of these cases, however, the police have not responded within the timeframe established by law for informing those who report suspected crimes as to whether police have taken any measures at all in those matters.
At the close of 2016, the police were significantly active in achieving the convictions of two different Romani people for similar crimes. One man shouted racist abuse in public, and another of made threats on Facebook to kill the chef at a pizzeria where a young Romani man died in October under circumstances that have yet to be satisfactorily explained.
"We are glad the Police of the Czech Republic have begun to investigate racist posts on Facebook. At the same time, we are curious whether the police will be just as thorough about addressing the online commentaries and posts where the authors call for violence against Muslims, Romani children, or Romani people in general," said Zdeněk Ryšavý, the director of ROMEA.
Threats by people to execute their own kind of "justice against Romani children" have been posted in discussions beneath articles reporting the killing of a flamingo in a Czech zoo recently. Such threats and the need to publicly label others, for example, "repugnant, useless black filth" have no place on the Internet - and first and foremost, they have no place on the Facebook social networking site, where they are exceptions.
"...I'd shoot it... I'd love to shoot those f***ers," one such person recently posted through Facebook, referring to refugees. "Given how active the police were in investigating the two Romani men who also committed racist abuse or threats in the public space, whether in real life on the town square or virtually on Facebook, it is startling, to say the least, to see that they did not assess the threat made on Facebook to burn down the ROMEA organization as a crime and shelved the matter," Jitka Votavová of ROMEA told news server Romea.cz.
"The police did not respond within the time period stipulated by law to at least four other reports of suspected crimes involving racist posts on the Internet," Votavová said. Lawyer Klára Kalibová of the In IUSTITIA organization previously expressed to news server Romea.cz her view of the situation, which could create the impression that the police will never thoroughly investigate hate attacks against minorities, including Romani people.
"If the police dismiss the seriousness of assaults carried out through online social networks, that does not contribute to general awareness of what is lawful and what is not. It means the police are establishing a state of legal uncertainty, basically by ignoring a serious assault that is targeting journalists generally, people working in a Romani organization, and Romani people per se," Kalibová said.
"The police are contributing to creating the feeling of impunity that is spreading among the current population of persons disseminating hatred through the Internet," the lawyer said. ROMEA will continue to report explicitly racist comments and specific threats to the Czech Police.
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