The European Foundation of Human Rights has received further notifications that three penal orders had been issued against the authors of offensive comments, on the basis of the motions filed with the Prosecutor General’s Office by the Foundation (about the previous wins: http://www.efhr.eu/2012/03/15/first-penalty-for-comments/?lang=en, http://www.efhr.eu/2012/04/16/another-punishment-for-the-comments/?lang=en).
On23 April 2012 the District Courtof Panevėžys City (Panevėžio miesto apylinkės teismas) issued a penal order against the city’s inhabitant, V.M., for public incitement to hatred and national discrimination through humiliating comments.
The author was fined 520 Lt for his comment, written on1 July 2011, on an article on lrytas.lt about the considerations to allow bilingual street plates in towns densely populated by national minorities: “Jei tu ne lenkė, tai sunku ir beįsivaizduoti kokią dar tūpesnę tautybę…Bandau spėti. Čiukčia?” (“If you aren’t Polish, it’s difficult to imagine a dumber nationality. I’m guessing. Chukchi?”).
The author of the comment pleaded guilty, but he asserted that he didn’t wish to offend the Polish nation, but to simply express publicly his opinion of the people who live in Lithuania and consider themselves to be Polish, although in reality the so-called “locals” don’t even know the Polish language.
Further two penal orders were issued against one V.S., for two separate comments.
On30 April 2012, the District Court of the Marijampolė region (Marijampolės raj. Apylinkės teismas) issued a penal order against V.S., an inhabitant of the region. He was punished for public incitement to hatred and national discrimination through humiliating comments. He was fined 390 Lt for these words, written on 1 July 2011: “Lenkai yra mūsų tautos, šiulšlių konteineris, bet čia ne mažumos kaltos, o lenkų politikai, kurie bruka nesantaiką tarp mūsų, tokia realybė šiuo metu” (“Poles are the rubbish bin of our nation, but the minorities are not to blame in this case, but the Polish politicians, who sow discord among us, such is the current situation”).
On10 May 2012V.S. was punished for a comment on an article about the Speaker of Seimas not seeing a problem with a high-ranking Polish delegation coming toLithuania. The comment, written on11 January 2011, was as follows: “Kuo mažiau jų čia bus, tuo geriau LT., o tauta yra bjauri – savanaudžiai ir aferistai, ačiū, kad nedalyvaus jie, mažai jų vokiečiai išnaikino, geto tik verti” (“The fewer of them are here, the better for Lithuania, and their nation is vile – they’re selfish frauds, it’s good that they won’t take part, Germans haven’t destroyed them enough, Poles are worthy only of the ghetto”), and the author was fined 260 Lt.
V.S. admitted that he understood that he was offending the Polish nation with his comments, but he wrote them because he himself felt offended by the Poles’ behaviour. The amounts of the fines are rather symbolic, given the existence in Lithuanian criminal law of the extenuating circumstance of sincere repentance for the offence and admission of guilt.
In general, five punishments have already been issued on the basis of some of the dozens of motions filed by the European Foundation of Human Rights (in 2011, the Foundation filed 25 motions with the Prosecutor General’s Office concerning comments, in 2012 – 50 motions), within the framework of the months-long campaign to end the sense of impunity among those who violate the dignity of others without any inhibitions and with no resistance, including inciting to deprive them of their lives (http://www.efhr.eu/2011/08/18/europejska-fundacja-praw-człowieka-przeciwko-narastającej-fali-nienawiści-w-internecie-na-litwie/).
By filing motions with the law enforcement authorities against illegal online entries, the Foundation would like to cause them to begin acknowledging the seriousness of the situation, as well as the related threat. The state cannot passively watch the unprecedented groundswell of hatred. The effects of such attitude can be seen, for example, in the polls, which unambiguously show that the negative campaign run by the media and the politicians against national minorities has shifted to the Lithuanian society (http://www.efhr.eu/2012/01/06/europejska-fundacja-praw-człowieka-zaniepokojona-wynikami-sondażu/).
The European Foundation of Human Rights would like to thank everyone who has sent us information concerning the illegal online entries. This success wouldn’t be possible without your help. We encourage you to cooperation.
Translated by Aleksandra Musiał within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.