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  • 33


     
    EU Agrees New Race Hatred Law
    Freedom; Posted on: 2007-04-20 08:46:12 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    Baltic states drop call to include 'Stalinist crimes'

    The Guardian

    Incitement to racial hatred and xenophobia is to become a crime across the EU, although the long-fought agreement avoids singling out Holocaust denial and was watered down after differences between member states.

    Six years of often fractious negotiations ended in Luxembourg yesterday with a compromise that struggled to balance freedom of expression with a tough stance on anti-semitism and other forms of racism and prejudice.

    Justice ministers from all 27 EU countries agreed to punish incitement to hatred or violence against a group or a person that is based on colour, race, national or ethnic origin, by a sentence of between one and three years' jail.

    But, disappointing anti-racism campaigners, Jewish groups and Germany, which holds the EU presidency, the law neither bans Holocaust denial as such, nor Nazi symbols. "Europe has a special historic responsibility to combat anti-semitism and it is a shame that the final version did not include this," said the European Jewish Congress.

    Germany, France, Belgium, Austria, Spain and several eastern European countries have laws banning Holocaust denial. These laws will still apply. Britain, Ireland and the Nordic countries have always resisted such a law so as not to compromise academic or artistic freedom unless it specifically incites racial hatred.

    There is no reference either to the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks in 1915, which Armenians insist should be recognised as genocide. Turkey, a candidate for EU membership, had made clear it would object strongly to this.

    The new EU legislation will need to be ratified by some national parliaments. It criminalises "publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes ... when the conduct is carried out in a manner likely to incite to violence or hatred against a group or [group] member".

    British officials insisted the EU provisions would mean no changes because UK domestic law, including the 2006 Religious and Racial Hatred Act, was tougher.

    Continue

    Sadly, Europe's censorious impulses have not yet been overcome. The silver lining here is the fact that the EU bureaucrats find such a law necessary because growing numbers of Europeans are becoming aware, as seen in the massive appeal of patriotic groups continent-wide. Such laws will hamper cranks and malcontents whose lack of serious political intent has kept pro-European activism in the political ghetto for generations, but also will selectively find application to harrass genuine and effective activists.
    News Source: The Guardian

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