Bulgaria: Hate Speech and the Role of Civil Society
(Communication - Bulgaria - English)
Begin 28/11/2013 - 10:00
End 28/11/2013 - 17:30
Venue Sofia, Bulgaria
Conference within the Second Annual Meeting for Sharing Good Practice on Partnership development between Bulgarian NGOs and Organisations from the Donor States in Sheraton Sofia Hotel Balkan, November 28, 2013.
In her opening remarks, Ms Zinaida Zlatanova, deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice pointed out that hate speech is a crime and is subject to penalization as per the Bulgarian Penal Code. She underlined that the Bulgarian society is typically tolerant.
The Minister responded to a question related to the presence of Ataka: that they are a political party present in the Parliament because the people voted for it.
H.E. Guro Katharina Vikør, Ambassador of Norway to Bulgaria pointed out that Norway is giving a priority to combating hate speech and would encourage Bulgaria to do so.
Mr John Kellock, Director’s Policy Advisor, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights underlined in his opening speech that hate speech has cross border dimensions and action is required to be taken at the Europan level.
Hate speech is a widespread phenomenon in Bulgarian public life. In the past year nearly half of the Bulgarian citizens (45.6%) have witnessed statements expressing disapproval of, hatred or aggression against representatives of ethnic, religious or sexual minorities. These statements were predominantly aimed at Roma, Turks and homosexuals. This is what the data from a representative study, carried out by Open Society Institute - Sofia in July this year, revealed. The data were presented to the participants in the Conference.
According to the study during the past year about one third of the respondents have heard public statements that may incite violence against representatives of the minorities. This means that hate speech is not just widespread, but it is also characterized by high intensity of the criminal message, which reaches a large group of the population, Ivanka Ivanova, Legal Program Director of Open Society Institute, said.