Deprivation of liberty for an internet comment
The European Foundation of Human Rights (EFHR) welcomes another court order issued against the author of an offensive comment on the grounds of motions filed by EFHR to the Prosecutor General’s Office.
The Court of Alytus district municipality (Alytaus rajono apylinkės teismas) issued a court order against an inhabitant of this district (S.Š) for the incitement to national hatred and for the humiliation of the Russian minority.
The comment was written on 19 February 2012 on the portal www.lrytas.lt and is as follows: “Russians are liars and they are always contaminating others. The have been refusing to give the original version of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact for so many years, as if it had not been made at all. There are no such scums as Russians”. For the offensive comment left below the article entitled “Russian will not be the official language of Latvia” (“ Rusų kalba nebus Latvijos valstybinė”), the author has been punished by deprivation of liberty for 7 months. Therefore, he has been placed under house arrest from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. This is the first punishment of this type (deprivation of liberty) for such an offense.
EFHR is happy to see that unlawful comments are being punished in an appropriate way and taken seriously.
The author of the comment has pleaded guilty. The man said that he had written the comment in the spur of the moment, without giving it much thought before writing it. He feels ashamed about it, he regrets his actions and he promises to be more tolerant when expressing his opinions in the future.
According to the Court, the offender intended to insult the Russian minority, to propagate hatred and to spread discrimination on the grounds of nationality.
Altogether, this is the 10th punishment for the writing of offensive comments reported by the EFHR (the Foundation filed over 284 motions up until the end of 2012). The motions filed to the Prosecutor General’s Office are a part of a campaign aimed at bringing to an end the impunity of people who, without any inhibitions of any kind, violate personal dignity and even incite to kill others (under http://en.efhr.eu/category/our-activities/wins/ you can find out more about similar cases).
Through the motions filed to the law enforcement authorities against unlawful comments, the Foundation wishes the State Bodies responsible for compliance with the law would begin to notice the importance of the situation and the threats connected to it. The State cannot stay indifferent to this wave of hate, which keeps increasing on a massive scale.
The results of our work are appreciated by prosecutors themselves. The EFHR is the most active Foundation in Lithuania dealing with unlawful comments published on the internet: http://www.efhr.eu/download/media_www/neapykanta-kurstantys-komentatoriu-2012.12.28.pdf
The Foundation would like to thank all the people who keep reporting the unlawful comments published on websites. Without your help, this success would not be possible. We strongly encourage you to continue with this co-operation.
Translated by Bartłomiej Cichoń within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.