Words that hurt: The topic of Hate Speech in the digital media age is hot


The challenges of Hate Speech  in the digital era are broadly discussed.  When it comes to Minorities this issue is especially sensitive.


It is, therefore, with great pleasure that we can announce the publication of two working papers on Hate Speech this week. Both are written by the ECMI Senior Researcher Dr. Kyriaki Topidi.

Her two working papers #118: Words that Hurt (1): Normative and Institutional Considerations in the Regulation of Hate Speech in Europe and #119 Words that Hurt (2): National and International Perspectives on Hate Speech Regulation engage with Hate Speech on a normative and legal level.

While #118 is focused more on the normative dimensions of the balance between the need to control and limit incitement to violence in reconciliation with the fundamental right to freedom of expression, #119 engages with the international legal and regulatory framework of hate speech and places emphasis on the European elements of the system in place. At a second stage, #119 briefly surveys twenty European national systems exposing the variety of regulatory patterns on the issue. Finally, the study concludes with a list of common observations pertaining to the regulation of hate speech in the European continent, as they have emerged from the comparative analysis of the case studies.

#118 elaborates on three distinct aspects of hate speech: The first relates to the role of freedom of expression as a tool of inclusiveness. With the limits of liberal tolerance being unclear, just like the definition of hate speech itself, legal actors and systems are torn between criminalising the speaker’s motive alone or in conjunction with the effects of the speech:

“A survey of recent related European Court of Human Rights case - law demonstrates these ambiguities,” states Dr. Topidi.

The second aspect covered in #118 looks at the challenges of the regulation of the freedom of expression in the digital age, with an emphasis on the online dimensions of the phenomenon from a legal perspective. The final aspect of the paper proposes an actor-based analysis of hate speech, as it emerges from the current regulatory frameworks applied. This section deals not only with the role of the State but also with that of equality bodies, political parties and private businesses in providing more efficient networks of protection of minorities from such violent expressions of hatred.

About the author: 

At the ECMI, Dr Kyriaki Topidi is head of the cluster "Culture & Diversity".[/caption]

Dr. Kyriaki Topidi holds a degree in law from the Robert Schuman Faculty of Law in Strasbourg, an MA in International Studies from The University of Birmingham and a PhD in European Studies from Queen's University Belfast. She has lectured extensively and researched in the areas of Public International Law, European Law, Human Rights and Comparative Law.

In the past, she has held research positions in various institutions and was a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law at the University of Luzern in Switzerland. She has also worked as managing director for the Centre for Comparative Constitutional Law and Religion at the same institution. She has been a guest scholar at Fordham University (US), the IDC (Israel) and the Max Planck Institute (Halle), the Institute of Law and Religion at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) as well as the National Law School Delhi (India) among others.

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