President urges political leaders to show zero tolerance for hate speech

Liliane Maury Pasquier, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), in a statement to mark the European Day for the Victims of Hate Crime (22 July), has urged political leaders to show "zero tolerance" for hate speech and the stigmatising of individuals or groups.

“On this day seven years ago, hatred and fanaticism claimed the lives of 77 people in a horrifying attack in Utøya and Oslo. Most victims were young political activists, full of hope and idealism. Since then, many more people in Europe have fallen victim to violent crimes arising from intolerance and xenophobia, and it is clear this kind of crime is on the rise. Whether it targets migrants and refugees, ethnic minorities, LGBTI people or any other group, it ultimately damages society as a whole,” the President said.

“On 22 July each year, while we commemorate those who lost their lives and express solidarity with all victims of hate crime, we should renew our commitment to combating the root causes of such violence. On this occasion I call on all public figures, and particularly on fellow politicians, to show zero tolerance for any form of stigmatisation of individuals or groups. Hate speech from political leaders can contribute to a climate of impunity, and may ultimately constitute incitement to violence,” she added.

The Assembly will soon debate a report by Elvira Kovacs (Serbia, EPP/CD) on the role of political leaders in fighting hate crime, while its No Hate Parliamentary Alliance, co-ordinated by Gabriela Heinrich (Germany, SOC), raises awareness and assists members to take action on this issue in their home parliaments.