The Promo-LEX Association announces that hate speech is prohibited and penalized in the general local elections on November 5, 2023. According to a press release, “In 2022, the Contravention Code was amended, and currently, the use of hate speech and/or incitement to discrimination by electoral competitors, including through campaign materials, is prohibited and penalized. The Central Electoral Commission and the Audiovisual Council have developed internal tools to regulate political and electoral advertising and to monitor hate speech in the audiovisual media during and outside the electoral period.”
Although the police have imposed sanctions for incitement to discrimination and violent actions in the past 12 months, the Promo-LEX expert questions whether there will be fewer cases of hate speech during the campaign for local elections and explains why.
“Society is deeply divided and irritated. Initially, the COVID-19 pandemic kept people indoors, and many sought ‘scapegoats’ in various social groups to direct their dissatisfaction and frustrations. Then, Russia’s war against Ukraine confronted them with war propaganda combined with false news and hate speech, and the economic crisis required them to be ‘self-focused’ on their needs rather than those of others. Although people have access to diverse sources of information, their critical thinking is poorly educated, and mistrust in the media, authorities, and the community makes them an easy target for simplified and manipulated messages, especially those that appeal to emotions. All of this overlaps with the national political context, in which sufficient opinion leaders and politicians use messages to fuel fears, and the pre-election period has already shown this.”
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According to the Contravention Code, the use of hate speech and/or incitement to discrimination by electoral competitors during the electoral period and/or in campaign materials is punishable by a fine ranging from 7,500 to 12,500 lei for individuals and from 12,500 to 20,000 lei for legal entities (political parties, electoral alliances).
“The reporting authority is the Police, which will need to analyze the alleged case of hate speech and/or incitement to discrimination and decide whether or not to apply the sanction. The Police can self-report or be notified by an electoral competitor who believes they were the target of hate speech and/or incitement to discrimination or by an individual or group of individuals who were targeted by hate speech and/or incitement to discrimination by another electoral competitor. The complaint must be accompanied by as much detail and evidence as possible (video or audio recordings of the message in question indicating the date, time, location/platform where the message was transmitted/published; the name of the author; the public’s reaction, supporting comments, promotion, or incitement to hatred).”