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NGOs Condemn Hate Speech Targeting Refugees

28.08.2015 09:29
Category: work and news

Several NGOs have come forward to condemn hate speech directed against refugees, which has been spreading on social media and in the comments sections of news sites as the prospect of the refugee crisis hitting Slovenia heightens political and social tensions.

Any spread of intolerance is regretful and sad, in particular when it refers to "women, children and men fleeing armed conflict, the ravages of war and prosecution", Amnesty International Slovenija told the STA.

The prospect of a surge in refugee numbers raises important questions and causes concern, but "participants of public debates...must at least take into account legally admissible limits", the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman said.

The statements come after several Twitter users in particular caused uproar with defamatory comments about refugees.

Most notably, a conservative freelance journalist said that Europe should solve the refugee crisis "with bullets" and suggested shooting anyone who comes within 500 metres of the border with the argument "God will recognise his flock".

Many individuals also took to the comments section of news sites, leading for example, the most popular news site, to disable comments on some news about the refugee crisis.

Neža Kogovšek, director of the Peace Institute, said defamatory comments must be condemned, but she was also quick to point out that those were individual cases. The best way to respond to hate speech is with different discourse and with awareness raising, she said.

The Association of Journalists said on Friday that all stakeholders in the refugee debate should respect the principles of humanity and dignity in order to create a space of zero tolerance to "fascist, xenophobic and militant discourse".

Incitement to hate or intolerance on the basis of religious, racial or ethnic affiliation is punishable with up to two years in prison.

A police spokesman has told the STA that a hate speech complaint has already been lodged and is being investigated.

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