Criminal liability

In the most serious cases, hate speech is considered to be a criminal offense. When a person is charged with a crime, they are called “the accused” and the criminal charges are examined in criminal proceedings.

Making perpetrators responsible for hate speech demonstrates the ability of the State to enforce human rights. The failure of the State to conduct appropriate proceedings and convict the perpetrator may result in a violation of human rights.

Criminal responsibility & Human rights

Prohibition of inhumane or degrading treatment

Conducting effective criminal proceedings and calling perpetrators of hate speech to criminal responsibility is an essential remedy of the State to protect the rights of victims and to prevent human rights violations. If the pertinent authorities fail to protect the victim by effectively investigating, charging, trying and, if appropriate, convicting the perpetrator, it may result in a violation of the prohibition of inhumane or degrading treatment.

Prohibition of discrimination

Hate speech can be considered to be a form of discrimination. The State’s failure to react to a hate speech situation with proper vigour may result in a violation of the prohibition of discrimination in conjunction with other human rights.

Right to a fair trial

If the state institutions investigating hate speech, or the courts, do not follow procedures prescribed in the law, or the court proceedings take too long, this could violate the right to a fair trial.

The perpetrator’s human rights are also mostly associated with the right to a fair trial.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education