Monday, 18 February, 2019

Govt launches campaign to combat hate speech

05 Feb 2019, 00:55 ( 13 days ago) | updated: 05 Feb 2019, 02:04 ( 13 days ago)

DF Report
File Photo Xinhua.

A communications campaign aiming to combat hate speech has been launched on Monday during Media Literacy Week.

The campaign is part of the Against Hate project coordinated by the Ministry of Justice, said an official press release.

The campaign aims to increase internet users’ awareness of what kinds of content constitute punishable hate speech. The campaign also seeks to encourage people to report punishable hate speech to the police.

The Against Hate campaign consists of TV public service announcements, a social media campaign and online materials to help people identify punishable hate speech.

The core message of the campaign is that hate speech can be a punishable offence. The internet is subject to the same rules as anywhere else.

The idea of the campaign is to take part in the public discussion on hate speech from the perspective of the punishability of the act. The campaign hashtag is #againsthate.

According to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the term “hate speech” covers all forms of expression that spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, antisemitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance.

Hate speech can be a crime under the Criminal Code of Finland, discrimination under the Non-Discrimination Act or the Gender Equality Act, or an otherwise hostile utterance.

Hate speech punishable by law includes hate speech targeted at a characteristic of an individual or group of individuals. Under the Criminal Code of Finland, a harsher sentence may be imposed when the motive for the act is the victim’s race, skin colour, descent, national or ethnic origin, religion or conviction, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. If hate speech is targeted at a single individual, it can constitute defamation or menace, for instance. If it is targeted at a group of individuals, it can be considered ethnic agitation.

Finnish legislation and international conventions place limits on the right to freedom of expression. Freedom of expression does not protect the right to violate other people’s fundamental rights or human dignity. The Criminal Code of Finland limits freedom of expression by laying down provisions on ethnic agitation, for instance. This means that punishable hate speech is also a hate crime.