In this video, Eva Smith Rasmussen, the former chair of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), discusses the impact of the refugee and migration crisis on community relations in Europe.
Smith Rasmussen admits that Europe is experiencing “difficult times” and that the region is drifting towards extremism.
“We have to understand the people who say they are scared,” says the Danish university professor. “We cannot take everybody but when they get to our countries, we have to treat them in a human way.
“Our societies are built on democracy and humanity and we should not forget these principles in these days of pressure.”
Guidelines on how to tackle hatespeech are at the heart of the Council of Europe’s contribution to today’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
ECRI wants to foster a culture which encourages the speedy condemnation by public figures of hate speech.
“Politicians, religious and community leaders have a crucial role to play – not only should they avoid using hate speech in public discourse, but they should also pro-actively counter it in their public statements,” said ECRI’s chair Christian Ahlund.
“States should also provide practical support to those targeted by hate speech: they should be made aware of their rights, receive legal and psychological assistance, be encouraged to report the use of hate speech and to bring proceedings to court, with the assistance of equality bodies and non-governmental organisations.”
ECRI also hopes to promote the self-regulation of media and raise awareness of the dangerous consequences of hate speech. It also recommends the withdrawal of financial and other support from political parties that actively use hate speech and criminalising its most extreme manifestations, while respecting freedom of expression.
“Anti-hate speech measures must be well-founded, proportionate, non-discriminatory, and must not be used to curb freedoms of expression or assembly,” said Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland.