· In recent years, we have been witnessing a significant spike in criminal acts identified as hate crimes. This trend finds its reflection in statistics published by the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe, the Police and Prosecutor’s Office.
· Poland has noted a significant increase in the number of religious offences as well as violence or insults motivated by a victim’s religious background.
· Statistics published by the OSCE point to a significant rise in hate crime incidents targeted at Christians across Europe.
· The above problem is the focus of an Ordo Iuris Report. The publication also offers insight into hate crime from the perspective of the Polish Constitution, criminal law, civil law and international law.
· The conclusions of the Report were presented during a press conference organised by Ordo Iuris and the Polish Catholic News Agency (KAI).
The conviction rate for hate crimes involving violence or insults inspired by religious intolerance or dissemination of totalitarianism has been rising in Poland. In 2015, 162 people were convicted of crimes under Articles 119, 256 and 257 of the Criminal Code, while in 2018, there were 269 convictions. Moreover, in the years 2017–2020, the number of incidents in which religious sensibilities were offended nearly doubled. 70 such cases were reported in 2017, and 130 in 2020.
“The available statistical data and estimates point to a continuous upward trend in these hate crimes. Police statistics related to religious offences provide some insights into the situation. Over the last few years, we have been observing a significant rise in criminal acts penalised under Article 196 of the Criminal Code. The year 2020, in which the Constitutional Tribunal delivered its judgement on the issue of eugenic abortion, marked the peak of this type of crimes”, said Przemysław Pietrzak, one of the report authors, during the conference.
OSCE statistics demonstrate a dramatic increase in the number of hate crimes committed against Christians in Europe, Poland included. In its 2019 report, the Organisation noted 35 of this type of criminal incidents, while a year later, the corresponding number was already 242. However, the studies conducted by the OSCE and Commissioner for Human Rights reveal that only 5% of hate-motivated offences are reported to law enforcement authorities. As a consequence, the actual number of offences may be much higher.
“Punishment of religious offences and hate acts inspired by religious intolerance has become a European standard. In other European countries, the justice system handles these incidents much faster, imposing enhanced penalties. Moreover, the law in some countries applies a much stricter approach to this problem”, noted Marcin Przeciszewski, President of the Polish Catholic Information Agency.
There is no uniform or commonly accepted definition of hate crimes in international law. They are usually defined as criminal acts committed against an individual (or their associated property), due to “hatred” of their characteristics. The catalogue of such characteristics may, however, vary, depending on a wide range of social factors.
The Polish Constitution offers a range of guarantees to protect religious freedom, prohibit dissemination of the totalitarian narrative and combat hate acts committed on the grounds of a person’s racial demographic or ethnicity. The current legislation protects interests of individuals, regardless of their broadly defined sexual orientation. Therefore, the postulates to extend the list of features of criminal offences are not justified since the requirement to ensure the implementation of related constitutional guarantees is already met by the relevant articles of the Criminal Code.
The current public discourse often employs the concept of “hate speech”. The latter is, however, often used to “discipline” persons expressing certain views and beliefs by restricting their freedom of speech. The Ordo Iuris Report demonstrates that the efforts taken to implement the concept of hate speech understood in this particular way to the criminal law are unjustified.
“The concept of hate speech is rooted in our inclination to oppose hatred, but at the same time, it has not been clearly defined and is used as a buzzword, a convenient means to limit freedom of speech and discussion. It is used as the reason for closing Facebook accounts or removing users from YouTube. It has also been used, for example, to ban a campaign of a pro-life organisation in France”, commented Jerzy Kwaśniewski President of Ordo Iuris.
· The Human Rights Council Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law took place at UN headquarters in Geneva.
· The event was attended by representatives of states and specialized UN agencies, academics and NGOs.
· This year's Forum was dedicated to discussing ways to strengthen democracy and the rule of law in a post-pandemic perspective.
A report on "racial justice, non-discrimination and anti-racism in the EU" was presented in the European Parliament this morning. The draft resolution on the issue refers, among other things, to the alleged discrimination against people of different skin color allegedly taking place on the Polish-Ukrainian border. During the debate, it was emphasized that racism is allegedly institutional in some EU countries, not to mention the problems of assimilation of immigrants and the scale of crime associated with this process.
The second round of public hearings of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB), set up to negotiate an international agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, provided an opportunity for civil society organisations to make their voices heard in the drafting process of the new international agre
In the Summer 2021, The European Commission has published information on an initiative entitled. "Equality Bodies - Binding Standards". Subsequently, on the basis of a published document ('roadmaps') outlining the Commission's legislative ideas, the public was given the opportunity to participate in a public consultation and send in their views. However, the most interesting is yet to come, as for the fourth quarter of 2022. Commission has announced the adoption of the initiative.