New Thematic Factsheet on Hate Crime and Hate Speech

The Council of Europe’s Department for the Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights has just issued a new thematic factsheet on hate crime and hate speech. Here is a brief description:

‘Hate crime is a criminal act motivated by bias or prejudice towards a person or group of persons while
hate speech concerns various forms of expression directed against a person or group of persons on the
grounds of the personal characteristics or status of the person or group of persons. When hate speech
takes the form of conduct that is in itself a criminal offence – such as conduct that is abusive, harassing or
insulting – it may also be referred to as hate crime.

The Court has noted that discriminatory treatment as such can in principle amount to degrading treatment
within the meaning of Article 3 of the Convention where it attains a level of severity such as to constitute
an affront to human dignity. When investigating violent incidents, State authorities have the duty to take
all reasonable steps to unmask possible discriminatory motives. The Court has underlined that the
authorities must do whatever is reasonable in the circumstances to collect and secure the evidence, and
deliver fully reasoned, impartial and objective decisions, without omitting suspicious facts that may be
indicative of violence induced by intolerance or discrimination. Treating violence and brutality with a
discriminatory intent on an equal footing with cases that have no such overtones would be turning a blind
eye to the specific nature of acts that are particularly destructive of fundamental rights. 

The present factsheet provides examples of general and individual measures reported by States in the
context of the execution of the European Court’s judgments, concerning the combat against racially
motivated hate crimes which may emanate from security forces, private individuals or groups targeting
Roma and migrants, hate crime and hate speech targeting LGBTI persons and religiously motivated hate
crime and hate speech.’

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