6th March 2012
Death threat to ENAR Director highlights urgent need for laws on racist crime
Michaël Privot, Director of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), received a death threat following his participation in a live web-chat on freedom of expression, organised by Belgian weekly magazine Le Vif/L’Express on 28 February 2012. The threat against ENAR’s director was posted anonymously on the magazine’s webpage. He has lodged a complaint today for incitement to racial hatred and violence, in Brussels.
The European Network Against Racism is very concerned by this manifestation of racial hatred and violence. The proliferation of hate speech on internet platforms makes clear the need for systematic and preventative measures.
In light of this threat, the Irish Network Against Racism (ENAR Ireland) reiterates its call on the Irish Government to reform the criminal law to deal with racist crime, including incitement against hatred.
Catherine Lynch, National Coordinator said, “Reports of racist incidents received by the Irish Network Against Racism indicate the urgent need for action by Government on racially motivated crimes. Many of the commitments made by successive governments to protecting people from racially motivated crime, have not been met. We should not think that because this particular incident happened in Belgium, that it could not happen Ireland. Activists and others who speak out against racism have been targeted here also. Only last month for example, Aodhan Ó Riordáin, Labour TD, became the target of hate mail, after he stood up against racist comments by a fellow politician, Cllr. Darren Scully.”
The UN is among those who have criticised Ireland’s response to racist incidents. In March last year the UN Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) noted that the review of the Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 had stalled. It also recommended that the racist motivation be consistently taken into account as an aggravating factor in sentencing practice for criminal offences.
It is worrying to note that this incident is the latest in a series of threats directed at representatives of ENAR member organisations in several countries (including Doros Polykarpou from the organisation KISA in Cyprus, Jallow Momodou from the National Afro-Swedish Association in Sweden, and Andreas Hieronymus from the Institut for Migrations- und Rassismusforschung in Germany), not to mention the numerous individuals across Europe who face racist violence (whether verbal or physical) on a daily basis.
ENAR Chair Chibo Onyeji said: “This latest incident shows that the climate of hatred and intolerance against migrants and ethnic and religious minorities in Europe has direct and very real consequences on individuals’ safety and well-being. We urge the EU authorities to finally take concrete steps to address these threats to the peace, security and cohesion of our societies.”
For further information, contact:
Georgina Siklossy, Communication and Press Officer
Catherine Lynch, Irish Network Against Racism, Tel. 087 2507942 E-mail email@example.com
Notes to the editor:
1. The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) is a network of more than 700 NGOs working to combat racism in all EU member states. ENAR aims to fight racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and to promote equality of treatment between EU citizens and third country nationals.
2. A summary of the live chat on Le Vif/L’Express, as well as comments, can be found here. The death threat comment was removed by Le Vif/L’Express as soon as it was reported to them. URL for press statement: http://cms.horus.be/files/99935/MediaArchive/pdfpress/2012-03-05%20death%20threat%20complaint-final.pdf
3. The Irish Network Against Racism is the National Coordination for the ENAR in Ireland. See www.enarireland.org for more information.
The Irish Network Against Racism shall launch its annual State of Nation Report and the European Shadow Report on Racism during the European Week Against Racism (17-25 March).
4. Aodhan Ó Riordáin lodged a complaint under the Incitement to Hatred Act in November 2011, in response to comments made by Cllr. Darren Scully indicating that he would not represent “black Africans”. He subsequently received hate mail, see for media article in the Herald for example at http://www.herald.ie/news/well-put-a-bullet-in-your-brain-sick-hate-mail-to-td-3020046.html