The Council of Europe has claimed the UK media, “online sources”, and “certain politicians” are inciting “hate speech” and “hate crimes”, and demands the state strengthens “mechanisms” to “tone down” and silence such voices.
The Advisory Committee for the Council also said the “media should be promoting intercultural dialogue”, “training” journalists in the right way to report, and hiring more ethnic minorities.
The demands were made in a report, published Wednesday, on the UK’s compliance with the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM), a legally binding treaty signed by the UK.
“Certain sections of the media and online sources of hate speech are responsible for spreading racially hostile narratives, often targeting Muslims and Gypsies” and “social media [has] become the preferred vehicle for the expression of anti-immigrant and anti-minority sentiments,” the authors write.
“While the UK authorities and officials do seek to counter this regularly, more should be done to ensure that debates are carried out in a responsible manner respecting all groups in society,” they said.
“Existing mechanisms appear to be too weak to tone down derogatory and provocative language without encroaching on media independence, and little is being done to empower these mechanisms”, the committee added.
All members of the European Union (EU) are also members of Council of Europe. Its most well-known body is the European Court of Human Rights, which enforces the European Convention on Human Rights.
The report acknowledged “serious efforts” have been made “to tackle hate speech and hate crime through policy frameworks and tools put in place… across the UK”, but demanded more be done.
Authors claim “online hate speech is on the rise, in particular towards Muslims”, whilst recognising it is now much easier to report supposed “hate speech” in the UK and have it logged as a crime.
UK police have disputed the existence of a recent “hate crime spike”. New Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) guidelines, published in January, were clear there is “no need for evidence” in order “to treat a crime as a hate crime” and have it logged in statistics as such.
As the Council of Europe report recognised: “Third-party reporting, improved recording, helplines, dedicated websites and police training have all increased reporting…”
“Rather than being simply the outcome of improved reporting and recording of hate crimes, this increase is believed to follow in part from specific, highly publicised trigger events” such as the election of a Muslim London mayor and the Gaza conflict, the authors wrote with little supporting evidence.