Communication No. 1570/2007
UN Human Rights Committee
The authors complained about a letter to the University of Patras regarding the removal of a Roma settlement. The Court found that the letter did not violate the domestic anti-racist law. The Human Rights Committee found that the authors did not sufficiently substantiate facts and therefore found the communication to be inadmissible.
Theme(s): Ethnic hatred
Date: 19 March 2009
Description of applicant(s): Citizens
Brief description of facts: On 17 November 2001, a letter to the Rector and the Rector’s Council of the University of Patras entitled, “Objection against the Gypsies: Residents gathered signature for their removal” was published in the newspaper “Peloponnisos.” The letter was sent by the representatives of local associations of four districts of Patras and contained 1200 signatures of non-Roma residents who lived in the vicinity of a Roma settlement. The settlement was built on land owned by the Rector and the Rector’s Council of the University of Patras. The signatories of the letter collectively accused the Roma of specific crimes, including physical assault, battery, and an arson attack on a car, and demanded that they be “evicted” from the settlement and failing eviction threatened with “militant action.” On 29 March 2002, the first and second authors, who reside in the settlement, filed a criminal complaint against the local associations under the Anti-Racism Law and joined the criminal proceedings to be initiated by the Public Prosecutor as civil claimants. They claimed violation of article 2 of the Anti-Racism Law 927/1979, because of the public expression of offensive ideas against the residents of the settlement on account of their racial origin. They also claimed a violation of article 1 of the same law, by the incitement, by means of public written expression, of discrimination, hatred or violence against the residents of the settlement on account of their racial origin. The case went to Court but the defendants were acquitted as it was found that there was no violation of article 2 of the Anti-Racism Law, on the basis that ‘doubts remained regarding the … intention [emphasis added] to offend the complainants by using expressions referred to in the indictment.’ The Court found that the impugned letter merely intended to draw the authorities’ attention to the plight of the Roma in general. The Court did not examine whether such remarks were indeed offensive and did not provide any reasoning as to why the defendants could not be said to have intended to offend the complainants.
(Alleged) target(s) of speech: Roma
The Committee’s assessment of the impugned speech: In relation to Article 20(2), the Court found the communication inadmissible.
Important paragraph(s) from the decision:
6.5 Without determining whether article 20 may be invoked under the Optional Protocol, the Committee considers that the authors have insufficiently substantiated the facts for the purposes of admissibility. Thus, this part of the communication is inadmissible under article 2 of the Optional Protocol.
ICCPR Article: Article 20(2)