Communication No. 41/2008
UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
The petitioner filed a complaint arguing that there was no proper investigation into statements made by the leader of the Danish People’s Party against Somalis. The Committee held that it was not in a position to interpret the statement as expressly claiming that persons of Somali origin were responsible for an attack. As such it found no violation of, amongst others, Article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Theme(s): Ethnic Hatred
Date: 21 August 2009
Description of applicant(s): Citizen
Brief description of facts: On 18 February 2007, the Danish newspaper Sobdagsavisen published an interview with Ms. Pia Merete Kjaersgaard, a member of parliament and the leader of the Danish People’s Party. Among other issues, she referred to an incident which had taken place in 1998, when she was attacked in an area of Copenhagen by a group of individuals. In particular, she said: “Suddenly they came out in large numbers from the Somali clubs. There she is, they cried, and forced the door to the taxi open and then beat me … I could have been killed; if they had entered I would have been beaten up. It was rage for blood.” The petitioner claims that no Somalis were involved in the incident in question and that this was a new false accusation by Ms. Kjaersgaard against the Somalis living in Denmark.
The petitioner filed a complaint requesting the police to investigate whether Ms. Kjaersgaard’s statement constituted a crime under section 266b of the Criminal Code. He claims that the persons who actually attacked Ms. Kjaersgaard were never arrested by the police and their identity and nationality were never established. Furthermore, at the time Ms. Kjaersgaard had not indicated that the authors of the attack were Somalis and none of the newspaper articles published or witnesses stated that Somalis were involved. He recalls that in the past Ms. Kjaersgaard had made public statements accusing Somalis of paedophilia and gang rape of Danish women.
There was no prosecution by the police. The petition argues that the absence of a proper investigation constitutes a violation of, amongst others, Article 4 ICERD.
(Alleged) target(s) of speech: Somalis
The Committee’s assessment of the impugned speech:
The Committee considered that the statement concerned could not necessarily be interpreted as expressly claiming that persons of Somali origin were responsible for the attack in question. Consequently, it found no violation of Article 4.
Important paragraph(s) from the decision:
7.3 The Committee recalls its earlier jurisprudence according to which, it does not suffice, for the purposes of article 4 of the Convention, merely to declare acts of racial discrimination punishable on paper. Rather, criminal laws and other legal provisions prohibiting racial discrimination must also be effectively implemented by the competent national tribunals and other State institutions. This obligation is implicit in article 4 of the Convention, under which States parties undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, racial discrimination. It is also reflected in other provisions of the Convention, such as article 2, paragraph 1 (d), which requires States to prohibit and bring to an end, by all appropriate means, racial discrimination, and article 6, which guarantees to everyone effective protection and remedies against any acts of racial discrimination.
7.4 The Committee notes the petitioner’s claim that the reference in Ms. Kjaersgaard’s statement, in the newspaper interview published on 17 February 2007, to the fact that her aggressors in the 1998 incident came out of the Somali clubs constituted an act of racial discrimination, as no Somalis were involved in the incident in question. The Committee also notes that the Commissioner of the West Copenhagen Police asserts that he examined the claim and concluded that Ms. Kjaersgaard’s statement was merely a description of a specific sequence of events, in that she stated that the aggressors came out of the Somali clubs but did not make any disparaging or degrading remarks about persons of Somali origin. The Committee considers that, on the basis of the information before it, the statement concerned, despite its ambiguity, cannot necessarily be interpreted as expressly claiming that persons of Somali origin were responsible for the attack in question. Consequently, without wishing to comment on Ms. Kjaersgaard’s intentions in making the statement, the Committee cannot conclude that her statement falls within the scope of article 2, paragraph 1 (d), and article 4 of the Convention, or that the investigation conducted by the national authorities into the 1998 incident did not meet the requirements of an effective remedy under the Convention.
ICERD Article: 4
Decision: No Violation