A new study by the Council of Europe Prepares Member States to Address ‘Hate Speech in Times of Crisis’

  • Thursday, 21/11/2024
  • Admin



A new study by the Council of Europe Prepares Member States to Address ‘Hate Speech in Times of Crisis’ 

At Vandu Languages, our vision, mission and values are deeply intertwined with the support to ethnic minorities in the UK and the understanding of the value that they offer to society at large. On this occasion, we aim to share information on the recent study completed by the Council of Europe to address hate speech in European nations and its implications for all citizens.

This month, the new study was published commissioned by the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee on Anti-Discrimination, Diversity and Inclusion (CDADI). It analyses the development of hate speech during the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's military aggression against Ukraine.

It stems from the Council's May 2022 publication, 'Recommendation on Combating Hate Speech'. This comprehensive guide, along with its explanatory memorandum, equips member states with legal and non-legal measures to combat hate speech and discrimination. 

Understanding Hate Speech
According to the 2022 publication, hate speech encompasses expressions that incite, promote, spread, or justify violence, hatred, or discrimination based on personal characteristics. These characteristics include race, colour, language, religion, nationality, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation. 

The publication emphasises the need for a globally accepted definition due to variations in national laws and social contexts.

Recommendations to Combat Hate Speech
The 2022 publication outlines detailed guidance for governments, summarised in key topics:

- Put in place a carefully calibrated set of laws, policies, guidelines and other measures to effectively prevent and combat hate speech based on its severity, the harm it causes and its impact on members of particular groups in different contexts. 

- Ensure clear and foreseeable legal provisions for the swift and effective removal of online hate speech. 

- Raise awareness, provide education, training, and encourage use of counterspeech, alternative speech and intercultural dialogue. 

- Enable those targeted by hate speech to report it, and put in place effective support for them – including legal, medical and psychological assistance – and raise awareness of their rights. 

- Monitor hate speech, analyse trends and make related information publicly available in compliance with existing European human rights and data-protection standards. 

- Regularly engage with all relevant stakeholders – such as internet intermediaries, the media and civil society organisations – to ensure national and international coordination and cooperation.

Relevance of a New Study in 2023
The recent study demonstrates the imperative need for ongoing discussions among governments in the current global political and social landscape.

The study's foundation lies in data gathered from social media platforms across seven focus countries: Albania, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Romania, the Slovak Republic, and the United Kingdom. This approach highlights two significant instances where hate speech proliferated extensively: the Covid-19 pandemic and the full-scale military aggression of Russia against Ukraine.

In the first case, it highlights the rise of negative comments against individuals of Asian descent, migrants, refugees, and national minorities, as well as the impact of the spread of false information and antisemitic comments due to conspiracy theories. 

In the second case, the study encapsulates the online hate speech disseminating racial hatred against Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees, as well as nationalistic hate speech being used to “fuel the conflict”.

It remains pertinent in 2023 that these situations are addressed through both legal and non-legal measures, ensuring the rights of citizens are respected and shielded from hateful and persuasive rhetoric.

Migrants and Refugees as Hate Speech Targets
The study emphasises the prevalence of hate speech targeting migrants and refugees, noting that terrorist attacks in Europe have fuelled xenophobic sentiments. In light of ongoing conflicts like the Israel-Palestine war and the high circulation of news across social media channels, these recommendations for governments must be enforced and followed with great care across all European countries. 

Discrimination affects the integrity of nations, impacting the safety of its citizens and creates a threat to democracy and society. 

About Vandu Languages
Vandu Languages is a language services provider based in southeast England. We offer a range of services including interpreting, translation, health and social care bilingual advocacy and cross-cultural training for public and private organisations

As an ethnic minority-led business that works closely with highly multicultural UK-based linguists, Vandu Languages supports local minority communities, believing in the value they bring to society.

With over two decades of experience in the field, we have encountered a significant amount of misinformation when organisations request translation or interpreting services. Often, they are not fully aware of the nuances and cultural differences between countries that share the same spoken language. In some cases, they may not even be certain about the specific language they require for translation.

In these instances, our team is dedicated to being supportive of our customers' requests and strives to understand their needs. However, it is concerning that such misinformation can potentially lead to cultural and racial discrimination within the language industry, and that is why we aim to raise awareness about the critical importance of being mindful of the language we use and how we discuss topics related to people from different ethnicities.

If you would like to know more about Vandu Languages, its services, values and the opportunities we offer for organisations, businesses and linguists, we warmly invite you to explore our website. 

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