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PACE calls to combat hate speech and bias in migration during election campaigns

Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ (Switzerland, SOC)

PACE today expressed concern at the intensification of a partial and biased treatment of the issue of migration and asylum in election campaigns, which legitimises political programmes aimed at hindering migrants' access to their rights in contravention of the Council of Europe’s standards and norms.

The Assembly highlighted that this issue was accompanied by “verbal and physical attacks on people of foreign origin or perceived as such, in particular on racialised persons and members of religious minorities.” Attacks and intimidation promoters of migrants’ rights are also of concern.

Adopting a resolution today, based on the report by Pierre-Alain Fridez (Switzerland, SOC), the parliamentarians put forward a series of proposals for political parties, parliaments, Council of Europe bodies, electoral administrations, the media and NGOs - including those founded by migrants, refugees and asylum seekers - to support the debate on this theme, in keeping with the principles of freedom of expression.

The Assembly underscored that the theme of migration and asylum cannot be limited to security matters and called politicians and the media to weigh the consequences such restricted views may bring to social cohesion and public order.

It called for amendments to electoral laws, recognising electoral management bodies as “monitoring bodies empowered to seize the competent authority in case of hate speech by a candidate during an electoral campaign.”

The resolution recommends self-regulation but also more robust and binding instruments against hate speech, endorses the Charter of European political parties for a non-racist and inclusive society and commends the intergovernmental decisions on combatting hate speech adopted by the Committee of Ministers in May 2022.

In a broader context, the Assembly calls for reinforced pan-European cooperation on this issue involving key partners such as the Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union, the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions, the European Network of Equality Bodies, and the OSCE/ODIHR.

Other proposals include the formalisation of collaboration among Council of Europe bodies to examine the handling of migration and asylum issues within electoral campaigns.