"A censor is a man who knows more than he thinks you ought to."
Granville Hicks (1901-1982)Probably long forgotten, but on 28th November 2008, Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA of 28 November 2008 on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law was published and which has now been "confirmed" - and is therefore now "in force" - in the Official Journal L 328 , 06/12/2008 P. 0055 - 0058. Readers with a knowledge of matters EU will know that a Decision is one of the three binding instruments provided by EU legislation. A decision is binding on the member state or individual to which it is addressed
In summary, this states that:
"As a follow-up to Joint Action96/443/JHA, this framework decision provides for the approximation of laws and regulations of the Member States on offences involving racism and xenophobia. Racist and xenophobic behaviour must constitute an offence in all Member States and must be punishable by effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties of a maximum of at least one to three years of imprisonment.Note that under Article 1 (a) "publicly inciting to violence or hatred 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" - means, in my view, that any criticism of an MP for example, especially where I have blogged previously that some of them should be suspended from lamposts - and named names - may well result in my prosecution? That my view the EU is a 'crock of shit' - as are those who work within it and support it - is not to be allowed? Freedom of Speech is to be that which the EU will allow? Foxtrot Oscar!
This framework decision applies to all offences committed:
Certain forms of conduct as outlined below, which are committed for a racist or xenophobic purpose, are punishable as criminal offences:
- within the territory of the European Union (EU), including through an information system;
- by a national of a Member State or for the benefit of a legal person established in a Member State. To that end, the framework decision provides criteria on how to determine the liability of a legal person.
Instigating, aiding or abetting in the commission of the above offences is also punishable.
- public incitement to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined on the basis of race, colour, descent, religion or belief, or national or ethnic origin;
- public dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material containing expressions of racism and xenophobia;
- public 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) and crimes defined in Article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal, when the conduct is carried out in a manner likely to incite violence or hatred against such a group or a member of such a group.
With regard to the offences listed in Article 1, Member States must ensure that they are punishable by:
In all cases, racist or xenophobic motivation is considered to be an aggravating circumstance or, alternatively, such motivation may be taken into consideration when determining the penalties to be applied.
- effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties;
- terms of imprisonment of a maximum of at least one to three years.
With regard to legal persons, the penalties must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive and must consist of criminal or non-criminal fines. In addition, legal persons may be punished by:
- exclusion from entitlement to public benefits or aid;
- temporary or permanent disqualification from the practice or commercial activities;
- being placed under judicial supervision;
- a judicial winding-up order."
It is noted that on Saturday (yesterday) the police have requested extended powers to shut down websites deemed to be engaged in "criminal" activity. A cynical view it may be, but I have to ask what the connection is between the European Union Decision and this latest 'request' from the police, together with the timing of the police request.
It is worth remembering that limitations, placed by government, on the freedom of speech is but censorship. As a result, once the people of a nation allow their government to decide the parameters involved in freedom of speech:
"To permit is to control"