and xenophobia in cyberspace
1. The Assembly considers racism not as an opinion but
as a crime. The relevant international legal instrument to combat racism
is the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination (ICERD). The Assembly deplores that Andorra, Moldova and
San Marino have not yet ratified this instrument.
2. Adequate legal instruments to combat racism already
exist in some Council of Europe member states. The difficulties of combating
racism on the Internet arise from the nature of this means of disseminating
information itself and from the legal obstacles to the implementation of
provisions against hate speech.
3. The Council of Europe now has a binding legal instrument:
the Convention on Cybercrime, but that convention does not address the
dissemination of racist propaganda using computer technology. An ad
hoc committee of experts, with terms of reference approved by the Committee
of Ministers, should be asked to prepare a protocol to remedy this shortcoming
of the convention, as requested by the Assembly in its Opinion No 226 (2001).
4. An additional protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime
aimed at punishing racism on the Internet will have no effect unless every
state hosting racist sites or messages is a party to it. The Assembly?s
starting-point is that a dialogue must be initiated with all service providers
to convince them of the need to take steps themselves to combat the existence
of racist sites.
5. On an ethical level, the Assembly believes that the
self-disciplinary efforts made by access providers and hosts should be
encouraged. Self-discipline should be made the norm by labelling and classifying
sites, setting up hotlines, filtering, drawing up rules of conduct and
including clauses in contracts with technical providers prohibiting their
clients from using their services for unlawful purposes.
6. Dialogue between Internet users, technical operators
and prosecuting authorities must be encouraged. The Assembly considers
that a consultation or joint regulation body could be set up within the
Council of Europe to help prepare codes of conduct, serve as a mediator
in specific disputes and function as a permanent observatory of racism
and xenophobia on the Internet.
7. The Assembly would like education and training aimed
at developing the discernment of Internet users, particularly the younger
generations, to play an important role in the future. Not only racism,
but also the dissemination of hate speech against certain nationalities,
religions and social groups must be opposed.
8. For these reasons, the Parliamentary Assembly, in accordance
with its Opinion
No. 226, in which it recommended that an additional protocol
to the new convention be immediately drawn up, defining and criminalising
the dissemination of racist propaganda and unlawful hosting of hate messages,
recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
i. give the Committee of Experts on the criminalisation
of racist or xenophobic acts using computer networks (PC-RX), which has
been instructed to prepare a draft additional protocol to the Convention
on Cybercrime, sufficient means to enable it to complete its task by
30 April 2002, when its terms of reference expire. The committee should
complete its work in time for the additional protocol to come into force
as soon as possible after the entry into force of the convention;
ii. make specific mention of unlawful hosting in the
terms of reference of this committee;
iii. specify the means by which it is possible
to eliminate racist sites from the Internet and to encourage the effective
prosecution of those responsible.
adopted by the Standing Committee, acting on behalf of the Assembly,
on 8 November 2001 (see Doc. 9263, report
of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, rapporteur: Mr Tallo).