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March 19, 2018
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European Roma Information Office publishes fact sheet on anti-Roma hate speech in European media

19.7.2015 3:29

The European Roma Information Office, a Brussels-based international advocacy organization promoting discussion of Romani issues, has published a fact sheet to raise awareness about hate speech against Romani people in the European media. The fact sheet defines hate speech against Roma as any public conduct that "wilfully expresses intense hostility towards Roma on the basis of their ethnicity".

According to ERIO, hate speech is not limited to verbal expression under international law. While freedom of speech is guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 10 of that convention provides for the limitation of that freedom through “formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society”.  

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which most European countries have signed, condemns hate speech, requires that it be declared an offense punishable by law, and calls for the prohibition of racist organizations inciting racial discrimination and promoting racist propaganda. The ERIO fact sheet gives cases of hate speech against Roma from France, Hungary, Italy and Slovakia.

ERIO recommends the EU increase the capacity of its agencies to combat hate speech in cooperation with the Member States, including coordinating guidelines on data collection and training civil servants and judges about hate speech. It recommends the Member States fight the underreportng of hate crimes by encouraging victims to report incidents, raising awareness about how to do so and providing victims with support.

ERIO also recommends that civil society, including Romani civil society, raise awareness about the harmful effects of hate speech. Lastly, the group recommends the media include the expertise, opinions and perspectives of Romani people in their media products by consulting with them.

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