Commission Reports to UN on Need for Greater State Urgency in Eliminating Racism

Today, on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has published its report to the UN on how Ireland is meeting its human rights obligations around tackling racist hate speech, racist hate crime, and the need to extend access to Legal aid for people facing discrimination.

The submission to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD Committee) follows up on formal recommendations made by the UN to Ireland in 2019 under the UN review of Ireland.

While welcoming progressive developments since 2019, including the establishment of the Anti-Racism Committee (ARC) and legislative proposals to address incitement to hatred and hate crime, the submission to the UN voices concerns.

The submission states:In light of the State’s growing pattern of delays in meeting its target deadlines, the Commission calls for greater urgency and prioritisation of the State’s commitments to eliminating racism and racial discrimination in Ireland.”

The Commission in its submission stresses the need for close alignment between the forthcoming Criminal Justice (Hate Crime) Bill and the proposed Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill and advocates that the proposed legislation is progressed and implemented in line with the State’s human rights obligations, including under CERD.

Alongside its submission to the UN, the Commission has also published today its detailed recommendations to Oireachtas Members on the General Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Hate Crime) Bill.

In its recommendations to the UN and the Oireachtas on new Hate Crime legislation, the Commission repeatedly stresses the importance of clarity and consistency when defining core terms relating to hate crime, such as hatred, harm, and unlawful discrimination, as well as hostility and incitement.

While on proposed new Online Safety laws, the Commission recommends the definition of harmful online content in the proposed legislation be clear and sufficiently precise. This should include online hate speech and content inciting violence or hatred against protected groups. The Commission also sets out that terms relating to hate speech, such as racism, should be clearly defined in this law.

Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission said:

 “Racist hate crime and hate speech affect not only affect those targeted directly, but also, if not challenged send a wider poisonous message that some individuals or groups do not belong and can therefore be mistreated with impunity. We need to tackle this head-on with all of the tools at our disposal.

“For our laws to be effective, we need to be clear and consistent about what we mean by the specific terms, and we must listen to the voices of those groups and persons affected”

Among the recommendations to the expert UN Committee the Commission advises that the State should act to ensure:

  • The proposed law on Online Safety and Media Regulation is precise in its definition of harmful online content, and includes online hate speech and content inciting violence or hatred against protected groups. It should make specific provision for the role and functions of the Online Safety Commissioner.
  • The proposed new Media Commission has due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and protect human rights. Its membership should reflect the nature and diversity of Irish society;
  • The proposed Criminal Justice (Hate Crime) Bill should, in line with the State’s obligations within a human rights framework, including through further parliamentary engagement with key affected groups, be enacted without delay, It should be clear and robust in nature, and the thresholds for proving an offence is aggravated by prejudice must be both achievable and informed by a victim-centred approach. This law should effectively capture the different forms of harm faced by those with lived experiences of hate crime
  • The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions should consider amending its Guidelines for Prosecutors to include guidance on prosecuting incitement to hatred and hate crime offences. Training should be provided to prosecutors to convey the importance of pursuing incitement to hatred and hate crime charges in cases where a particular action might be more easily charged under another Act.
  • Members of An Garda Síochána should be equipped to understand, recognise, and thoroughly investigate all instances of incitement to hatred and hate crime through initial training and ongoing training, designed, implemented and monitored in collaboration with the communities most affected by hate crimes. Judicial training is also needed.

ENDS

For further information please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

087 0697095

Brian.Dawson@ihrec.ie

Follow us on twitter and Instagram @_IHREC

 

Notes to editor:

The full submission from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is available here.

The Commission’s full submissions to the Oireachtas on the General Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Hate Crime) Bill is available here.

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission 

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.

 

 

 

 

 

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