On 11 June 2021, the Council of Europe organised,in cooperation with the Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Moldova, the Audiovisual Council and the Centre for Continuous Electoral Training an online round table aiming to discuss the application of a comprehensive approach to combating hate speech in the Republic of Moldova, in particular during electoral periods. This event is a joint initiative of several CoE projects, one of which is co-funded by the European Union.
The event provided a common platform of discussions for public institutions, non-governmental organisations, electoral stakeholders including political parties, media stakeholders, anti-discrimination stakeholders and potential voters, who had the possibility to analyse possible responses to hate speech, in particular concerning electoral competitors and the role of mass-media.
In the opening part, the following remarks were made by:
Giulia RE, Deputy Head of the Council of Europe Office in Chisinau: “In the Council of Europe Action Plan 2021-2024 for the Republic of Moldova, the cooperation in the electoral field, advocacy for equality and anti-discrimination practices and combating hate speech, are among the Council of Europe priorities towards the Republic of Moldova. The event today is precisely designed to raise awareness about combating hate speech in the Republic of Moldova, the recurrent phenomenon which, unfortunately, soars during electoral periods, and to jointly discuss how we can best address it in line with the national and international standards in the electoral and anti-discrimination fields”.
Vladimir Sarban, Deputy Chair, Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Moldova: “The elections must be honest competitions, based on ethics and common decency, without judging the people behind their ideas and without admitting the instigation to hate speech. The correctness of the electoral campaign starts with the behaviour of every actor involved, and in this sense, a key step made by the Central Electoral Commission, was the proposal of a code of conduct to be signed by all the electoral competitors and relevant media, to ensure that hate speech and discrimination will be prevented and combatted accordingly within the on-going electoral campaign for the 11 July 2021 early Parliamentary elections”.
Ala Ursu-Antoci, Chair, Audiovisual Council of the Republic of Moldova: “The Audiovisual Council will ensure the strict monitoring and sanctioning of hate speech cases identified in the media environment, including the period of electoral campaign. An important contribution for strengthening the institutional capacity and developing the abilities of monitors in identifying and processing the cases of hate speech, has been provided by the Council of Europe through the recent training on hate speech for the employees of the Audiovisual Council, and also due to the methodological guide “Combating hate speech in the media”, that will be used by the Audiovisual Council as a practical tool in monitoring and combating more efficiently the hate speech cases in the audio-visual environment”.
Michael Farrell, Deputy Chair of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance: “ECRI stands for comprehensive strategies for combatting hate speech, with proactive monitoring mechanisms and proper conviction of hate speech cases. It is important that all the relevant actors and institutions are actively involved in ensuring the prevention and sanctioning of the hate speech, and also, it is of major importance that all the political parties adopt codes of conduct aimed at combatting hate speech”.
In the framework of this event, the Council of Europe launched a systemic mapping report about hate speech in the Republic of Moldova, that is available here.
As an important outcome of the event in view of combating hate speech, the electoral and media actors were invited by the Central Electoral Commission to sign the above-mentioned Code of conduct, that explicitly foresees the obligation not to use hate speech.
The round table was organised as a joint initiative of the projects of the Council of Europe “Strengthening access to justice for victims of discrimination, hate crime and hate speech in the Eastern Partnership” (funded by the European Union and the Council of Europe and implemented by the Council of Europe in the framework of the Partnership for Good Governance II ), “Improving electoral practice in the Republic of Moldova, Phase II” (funded and implemented by the Council of Europe) and “Promoting European standards in the audio-visual regulation of the Republic of Moldova” (funded and implemented by the Council of Europe).