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EU Justice Ministers agree on racism and xenophobia proposal

Sommaire: EU Justice Ministers agree on racism and xenophobia proposal (19 April 2007: Luxembourg)

After six years of discussions, the proposal for a framework decision on racism and xenophobia met the consensus of EU Ministers gathered at the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 19 April.

The proposal criminalises all intentional behaviour aimed at inciting violence or hatred and at denying or trivializing the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes as defined by the Tribunal of Nuremberg. Such crimes must be committed on the grounds of race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.

The Council of the European Union reached a general approach on a Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia. The text will be adopted once some parliamentary scrutiny reservations have been lifted and the text has been revised by legal linguistic group.

COUNCIL FRAMEWORK DECISION ON COMBATING RACISM AND XENOPHOBIA

Pending the lifting of some Parliamentary reservations, the Council reached a general approach on this Framework Decision.

The text establishes that the following intentional conduct will be punishable in all EU Member States:

- Publicly inciting to violence or hatred , even by dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material, directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.

- Publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising
- crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes as defined in the Statute of the International Criminal Court (Articles 6, 7 and 8) directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin, and

- crimes defined by the Tribunal of Nüremberg (Article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal, London Agreement of 1945) directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.
Member States may choose to punish only conduct which is either carried out in a manner likely to disturb public order or which is threatening, abusive or insulting.

The reference to religion is intended to cover, at least, conduct which is a pretext for directing acts against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin.

Member States will ensure that these conducts are punishable by criminal penalties of a maximum of at least between 1 and 3 years of imprisonment.

The Framework Decision will not have the effect of modifying the obligation to respect fundamental rights and fundamental legal principles, including freedom of expression and association, as enshrined in Article 6 of the Treaty of the EU.

Member States will not have to modify their constitutional rules and fundamental principles relating to freedom of association, freedom of the press and the freedom of expression.

After its adoption, Member States will have 2 years to comply with the Framework Decision.

Statement to be inserted in the minutes of the Council at the time of the adoption of the Framework Decision

"On (date) the Council of Ministers has adopted a Framework Decision on Combating certain forms and expressions of Racism and Xenophobia by means of criminal law. The aim of this Framework Decision is to approximate criminal law provisions and to combat racist and xenophobic offences more effectively by promoting a full and effective judicial cooperation between Member States.

The Framework Decisions deals with such crimes as incitement to hatred and violence and publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivializing crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Framework Decision is limited to crimes committed on the grounds of race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin. It does not cover crimes committed on other grounds e;g; by totalitarian regimes. However, the Council deplores all of these crimes.

The Council invites the Commission to examine and to report to the Council within two years after the entry into force of the Framework Decision, whether an additional instrument is need, to cover publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivializing crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes directed against a group of persons defined by other criteria that race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin such as social status or political convictions.

The Berlin declaration adopted on 25 March 2007 stated that "European integration shows that we have learnt the painful lessons of a history marked by bloody conflict". In that light the Commission will organise a public European hearing on crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by totalitarian regimes as well as those who publicly condone, deny, grossly distort or trivialize them, and emphasizes the need for appropriate redress of injustice and - if appropriate - submit a proposal for a framework decision on these crimes."

  • Ref: CL07-097EN
  • Source UE: Conseil
  • UN forum: 
  • Date: 19/4/2007


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