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Politicians have a 'moral responsibility' to combat hate speech

The Assembly expressed its concern at the upsurge in hate speech which incites xenophobia, racial hatred, antisemitism, islamophobia and intolerance, and which targets in particular minorities, immigrants, women and LGBTI persons.

This worrying trend does not spare the political arena, and hate speech is used “not only by populist and extremist groups, but also by representatives of parties across the political spectrum,” the Assembly said, adopting the report by Elvira Kovács (Serbia, EPP/CD) on the issue. Politicians have both a political obligation and a moral responsibility “to refrain from using hate speech and stigmatising language, and to condemn promptly and unequivocally its use by others, as silence may be interpreted as approval or support”, the adopted text underlines.

The Assembly encouraged political parties and movements to adopt self-regulatory instruments such as codes of conduct and ethical charters, prohibiting the use of hate speech by their members. “Internet intermediaries, in particular social networks, should also apply self-regulatory instruments to prevent and sanction hate speech and commit to removing offensive contents,” the parliamentarians said.

They also called on member States to adopt administrative, civil and criminal law provisions to counter hate speech, and to promote awareness raising actions, including at international level – for example initiatives such as the Charter of European political parties for a non-racist society and the No Hate Parliamentary Alliance.

Finally, the Assembly called on member States to implement the General Policy Recommendation n°15 of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), which contains a number of measures on preventing and combating hate speech, providing support for those targeted, and calling for self-regulation by public and private institutions.