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Hate Speech More Frequent, Repression Not the Only Answer, Debate Hears

15.03.2013 10:59
Category: work and news


Ljubljana, 15 March (STA) - Hate speech is growing more frequent, but repression cannot and must not be the only response to it, heard a public debate at the parliamentary Commission for Petitions, Human Rights and Equal Opportunities on Friday. Slovenia also needs preventive and educational programmes, the participants stressed.

Supreme State Prosecutor Aleš Butala said that the prosecution only took on cases of hate speech that can be determined as criminal offence according to law.

According to him, courts heard three cases concerning hate speech in 2010, issuing two sentences, while the following year the number of cases was up to nine, with courts sentencing eight perpetrators of the criminal offence.

Butala moreover pointed to the penal code, which had been changed three times in the provision dealing with hate speech since 1995. While arguing that constant changes to such provisions were not good, he noted that the current wording should be clearer and easier to understand.

Deputy Human Rights Ombudsman Jernej Rovšek meanwhile pointed out that the number of initiatives sent to the ombudsman to condemn hate speech was growing, but added that some were unjustified and some politically or ideologically motivated.

According to former Constitutional Court President and Justice Minister Lovro Šturm, occurrences of hate speech are often beyond the wording of the law.

Tadej Strehovec of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Slovenian Bishops' Conference moreover said that members of religious communities, including Catholics, were also victims of hate speech.

He said that authorities should respond more appropriately to cases, such as "public calls inciting hate towards the Catholic Church and advocating cross burnings". He urged the authorities to do everything in their power to ensure religious freedom.

Meanwhile, Sonja Lokar of the European Network on Gender Equality highlighted the hate speech in politics, pointing to jokes about the length of the skirt of PM-designate Alenka Bratušek. "If this were explained to the public as offensive, it could prevent such things from happening again," she noted.

Former Human Rights Ombudsman Ivo Bizjak moreover noted that there must be no tolerance for intolerance.


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