The freedom of speech is guaranteed in the legal system of each democratic country and in international documents. However, some limitations are often imposed on it, like for instance in the case of offending other people publically.
The European Foundation of Human Rights (EFHR), in its fight against offensive comments in the Internet succeeds more and more often and it has won three more court cases.
Unfortunately, authors of the comments which are unlawful are also minor people, such as a citizen of the town of Priekulė in the Klaipėda County, D.G,who, on the www.lrytas.lt website under the article „Na wybrzeżu szalejący polscy kibice zapłacili grzywny i wyjechali na mecz” (“On the coast, rioting Polish fans paid fines and went to match”) wrote a humiliating comment, which publically encourages others to physical violence based on nationality. For his comment, which went as follows, “Bicas, Lietuvi? Koki atiduodam? Pisam per makaule tiem lenkam Ir vis kas baigta. Kur dingo Lietuvos dvasia?” the District Court of Klaipėda has adjudged means of pedagogic influence in the form of an admonition. In the decision, the court heeded the age of D.G., his social maturity, the opinion of his university and other factors, which have influence when it comes to adjudging a penalty for a guilty person. The person pleaded guilty, he testified during the process and he honestly regrets his behaviour.
The next decision was taken by the Court of the City of Jurbarkas. On the basis of it, it was decided to parole the offender from criminal responsibility. The guilty person, G.D. was passed on to remain under the supervision of a probation officer for the period of one year. G.D. was also punished for the comment „kur kaunas buwo kodel nedare twarkos : DDD hebra reikejo sulauzyt tuo lenkus ir policijai butu ramiau : P kazkokie welniai atwaziawe dar i kauna suda mals : DD sutrypt : D”, which, similarly as the previous one, encourages others to physical violence against the Polish national minority. It is worth to emphasize that if, during the trial period, the perpetrator commits another crime intentionally, he will be punished for two crimes. In reality, it means freedom under supervision.
Another penalty for an Internet user for violating the right to freedom of speech was adjudged by the public prosecutor’s office in Vilnius. The convicted person admitted that he had writtem the following comment: “curbancai ir bulbashai ne broliai o adin xyu, debilaveidziai debilatauciai, Gudijoje gzveno Lietuviai Ir baltu gentzs dabar debila iuzvestiniai kacapai – ciurbancai, pasalines valkatos “tuteisai” Lenino uzvesti”, but the investigation was discontinued, since, as the Inspector of Journalists’ Ethic has pointed out, the comment does not call to discriminate others. However, a precautionary measure was used towards the convicted person – he was obliged not to leave the country. By this, the time to think over his actions was given to the person.
In total, there have been 15 penalties for comments, which were given on the basis of EFHR’s applications (the Foundation has submitted more than 330 applications) sent to the public prosecutor’s office within the framework of a campaign, which has lasted for months. The campaign aims at ending the feeling of impunity of those, who, without any constraint, offend others’ dignity.
Through sending applications to enforcement agencies, the Foundation would like to lead to a moment, in which State authorities would begin to see the seriousness of the situation and the threat associated with it. The state cannot look idly at the wave of hatred, rising with speed which was unseen before.
The effects of our work are appreciated by public prosecutors themselves. The EFHR is the most active Foundation in Lithuania in the area of pursuing comments that break the law: www.efhr.eu/download/media_www/neapykanta-kurstantys-komentatoriu-2012.12.28.pdf.
The Foundation would like to cordially thank all those, who send us information about entries that violate the law. Without your help, the success would not be possible. We encourage you to further cooperation.
Translated by Emilia Zawieracz within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.