Target: President Karolos Papoulias
Goal: Strengthen anti-racism bill
In November 2013, Greece’s parliament reviewed an anti-racism bill, and while human rights groups demanded that changes be made, the session had ended. Now that parliament is back, they have begun reviewing the bill. While major amendments have been added, the bill contains major flaws. We need to ensure that Greece covers issues of reporting violence, and ensure appropriate action is conducted through the police and other authorities.
Currently the proposed reforms would toughen criminal sanctions for incitement to hatred, discrimination, and violence. The bill also criminalizes denial of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Unfortunate the legislations fails to elaborate on reporting violence and ensuring that the police and other authorities act appropriately. If this measure isn’t amended, it is highly likely that police will abuse their power, and not pursue cases of discrimination or hate crimes.
Greece’s bill needs to include protection for those who report acts of hate crime. Citizens who do report such crimes should be protected against detention and deportment, and prosecutors need to follow up on these reports with an investigation. These investigations should also be done no matter the nature of the violence, and should be done without the witness filing a complaint. Investigators should also do their job without bias and present any evidence in court. Members of parliament should remove any law that steps on free speech. No matter how offensive a person’s speech, it should never be criminalized.
The anti-racism bill is far from being perfect, but the bill must cover all grounds regarding the police and the witnesses who report on hate crime. It is also imperative that the bill doesn’t step on freedom of speech, measures in the bill that were still present in November 2013. There has also been evidence of witnesses being detained or threatened of deportation for reporting, and this bill desperately needs to provide protection for witnesses. Sign this petition and urge the president to strengthen the bill for the betterment of his nation.
Dear President Karolos Papoulias,
I am writing to urge you and your parliament to strengthen the anti-racism bill that is currently being reviewed. Many of the measures fail to address the problem of reporting and investigating. The bill criminalizes hate speech, which steps on freedom of speech. No matter how offensive a person’s words are, they shouldn’t be punished. It is when they act violently that these people should be punished.
Furthermore, your bill needs to provide protection to witnesses who report on hate crime and ensure authorities act with an unbiased investigation. Witnesses should not be threatened with detention or deportation, and authorities who do so should be immediately punished.
Please ensure that these changes are made, as your bill is very flaw and doesn’t address the issue humanely. Your citizens should be treated with respect and dignity, especially if they report on violence.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Emmanuel Eragne via flickr