Comparative study: Hate Speech and incitement to discrimination in Moldova and Armenia
Hate speech, incitement to discrimination and violence, sexism and other forms of expressing intolerance are being used increasingly in the public space and media of both the Republic of Moldova and Armenia. In the context of a divided society, geopolitical struggle, ethno-linguistic and religious tension, the aforementioned became efficient tools for the manipulation and generation of false problems and threats.
In order to write this article our object of monitoring were the online media sources, TV, social networks, cyber platforms for storing and disseminating information, the latest public events, public statements by public figures, politicians and religious figures. Forwards we will list down the sources where hate speech is mostly spread in Armenia and Moldova by inserting the data into a table.
Data were analysed and interpreted following the broad approach to the concept of hate speech, which includes legal definitions in the national and international law, as well as related concepts, such as incitement to discrimination, sexist, homophobic, racist discourse, incitement to violence, threats, support for ideologies based on the superiority of a group, defamation and public insult based on the depreciation or denigration of a group, and public promotion of intolerance.
Something that is common to Moldova and Armenia is that the hate speech remains largely unsanctioned, despite the plenty of cases identified in the public space and in the media. Currently, authorities do not respond to hate speech in the political and election context. There is neither pertinent legal framework nor mechanisms to combat this phenomenon. In this respect, hate speech is completely uncontrolled, regardless of its impact on the election process and not only.
Something which we consider to be common is that even though the hate speech remains unsanctioned there are taken measures in order to introduce a prison sentence for ,,the spread of hate speech”. In this respect, the Armenian Ministry of Justice has the intent to amend the country’s criminal code to make the ‘dissemination of hate speech’ punishable with a prison sentence. In the same time in Moldova there is a draft of a proposed law presented to the parliament for discussion submitted by a NGO ,,Promo-Lex” in common with other structures and state institutions. In this respect, our recommendation is that the law should provide a clear definition of the concepts of ‘hate speech’ and ‘incitement to violence’ in order to be clearer, more coherent and with clear language to avoid a subjective interpretation by the society. Compared to Moldova, where there is a statistic even for the last year, for Armenia we didn’t find datas for the last 4-5 years, which means a criminal accountably tool is necessary in order to keep under control both hate crimes and hate speech and to sanction them.
Also, when researching we found out that in what concerns hate speech, in Armenia and Moldova it is used in political and religious contexts against some social groups LGBT, women, Roma, Muslims.
For example, here we have two examples of hate speech in Moldova and Armenia regarding the LGBT community:
In the latest contexts, in what concerns hate speech against women, the following two examples show that the situation is the same in both countries.
On March 8, 2019, in the framework of the Civil Society-Parliament cooperation platform for gender equality and equal opportunities on the rights of women from all groups, Mrs. Lara Aharonia (vocal women’s rights defender in Armenia) made a speech about the rights of poor women, women with disabilities, single mothers, lesbian, trans and bisexual women, etc, which made her a target for further online attacks and hate speech. The hostile attitudes backed by discriminatory narratives and hate speech have included threats to kill and rape her and harm her family.
One news report from Moldova screamed of an "Invasion of 30,000 Syrians in Moldova," if the pro-European candidate were to win the election. Also, in this context bishop Marchel involves religion in politics saying that the Prime-minister has an attitude towards Christian morality, toward the purity of the soul, towards everything that is holy, and that she seems to deviate much from the axis of normality. He said if people will vote for Maia Sandu, they will take a lot of condemnation from God and that she is the first candidate in the history of Moldova to be publicly supported by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender activists.
As we saw, things are almost the same when we talk about hate speech in Moldova and Armenia. In this respect the recommendation of the author is that both countries Armenia and Moldova to follow three important steps so that things get better:
To ensure that political leaders publicly express support to human rights defenders and their work; and publicly and firmly condemn threats against them;
To guarantee safe and enabling environment in which all human rights defenders, including women HRDs can operate without hindrance and insecurity;
To develop a mechanism for countering hate speech, harassment and smear campaign against human rights defenders, in particular, women HRDs.