The European Foundation of Human Rights has been informed that on the basis of petitions filed by the Foundation another penal order to the author of offensive comment has been issued to the Regional Prosecutor’s Office (to learn about the previous successes, go to: 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, http://www.efhr.eu/2012/07/18/3-wins-concerning-comments/?lang=en ).
Kaunas District Court has just issued a penal order to A. E. P., resident in Kaunas, for publicly inciting to hatred by making a comment, which was offensive and discriminating on national grounds, on an information portal www.lrytas.lt concerning the article by Jan Widacki entitled “Nowa Września Polska na zagranicy zwariowania o polskie szkoły na Litwie” (Poland on the verge of madness over Polish schools in Lithuania). For his comment: ‘yuck, the Poles here came like shit, with filthy hands and drunkard faces.’) the author was fined with paying 390 Litas.
The author pleaded guilty, explaining that he wrote it under the influence of alcohol. He stated that he would have never done any such thing while sober. He understood that his comment was an offence and a slander to the Polish people, but the reason he wrote it was that he himself felt offended by Poles commenting on Lithuanians.
A.E. P. is guilty not only because he pleaded so, but also because his guilt has been borne out by EFHR petitions, the fact that the police tracked down his computer’s IP address and also by the article, a formal record of the comments made and an expert opinion of the Journalism Ethics Inspector, all of which were published on www.lrytas.lt.
The court decided that the aim of the comment was public offence of the Poles in Lithuania, dissemination of hatred and national discrimination.
The financial fine is lenient because of the mitigating circumstances, – genuine regret for the committed offence and pleading guilty, according to Lithuania penal law. Even so, it has been another step forward in combating the recent spate of hatred.
All in all, there has been 6 fines for comments based on the petitions lodged by the European Foundation of Human Rights (in 2011 the Foundation filed 25 petitions to the Regional Prosecutor’s Office concerning offensive comments and 2012 has seen almost 70 of such petitions) to the prosecutor’s office within the campaign aiming at curbing the impunity of all those who, without any scruples or hesitation, infringe upon other people’s dignity, including inciting to taking away others’ lives ( http://www.efhr.eu/2011/08/18/european-foundation-of-human-rights-reported-a-dozen-or-so-cases-of-the-initiation-of-criminal-proceedings/?lang=en).
By filing petitions about offensive comments to the law enforcement bodies, the Foundation aims at making those bodies aware of the gravity of the situation and the danger entailed. The authorities cannot stand idle in the face of a constantly increasing spate of hatred at an unprecedented scale. The effects of such a stand are clearly visible in polls which demonstrate that the negative minorities policy of the Lithuanian media and politicians has had its impact on the Lithuanian people (http://www.efhr.eu/2012/01/06/efhr-took-notice-seriously-of-the-survey-published-in-the-issue-of-iq-on-january/?lang=en).
The European Foundation of Human Rights would like to express its sincere gratitude to all those who have sent information about offensive and illegal posts. Had it not been for your invaluable help, the success of our campaign would not have been possible. All help is welcome.
European Foundation of Human Rights
Tłumaczenie Katarzyna Różańska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Katarzyna Różańska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.