The European Foundation of Human Rights (EFHR) began 2013 by winning a cyberspace hate speech case. The Foundation spotted that a citizen of Šiauliai, G.D, had written a discriminatory comment inciting violence. On www.lrytas.lt website, under an article titled “Members of the European Parliament applied to the EU leaders for the protection of Polish minority rights”, G.D. posted his comment which read as follows: “All of you bastards should be strung up. <…> – You are enemies of Lithuania so <…> you got your heads smashed with a club… (Instead of <…> the culprit used a vulgar word degrading and humiliating members of the Polish minority).
Thanks to the intervention of the Foundation, the Prosecutor General started an investigation and consequently the District Court of Šiauliai punished the author of the discriminatory comment. G.D., an owner of a company, was sentenced to a fine amounting to 1, 040 LTL.
Although he states that he has a dim recollection of the content of the comment, G.D. assured the court that he is deeply ashamed of his indecent behaviour and will ensure that he will never repeat his mistake.
It is worth noting that fines for authors of such discriminatory comments are becoming higher. This means that Lithuanian law enforcement agencies have started to take such virtual offences more seriously.
This is the 11th successful case instigated by EFHR (the Foundation has submitted about 300 cases) within the framework of a long-lasting campaign against people who, with total impunity, violate the dignity of others and incite hatred (read about other successful cases on http://en.efhr.eu/category/our-activities/wins/).
Through informing the law enforcement agencies about illegal comments, the Foundation wants to attract the attention of the national authorities to the gravity of the problem and potential dangers related with it. The state can no longer afford to ignore the growing wave of hatred.
The effects of our actions are appreciated by the prosecution services. EFHR is the most active foundation in Lithuania as we tirelessly search for illegal comments: www.efhr.eu/download/media_www/neapykanta-kurstantys-komentatoriu-2012.12.28.pdf.
The European Foundation of Human Rights is grateful to all who inform us about illegal comments. This success would not be possible without your help. We encourage you to continue to co-operate with us.
Translated by Karolina Rolka within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.