Experience of two men at the park in Riga
Two men, Latvian citizens, are sitting on a bench in the park, watching a video on their phone together, laughing, and having a conversation in Russian. Nearby, an elderly woman is sitting on a neighboring bench. After some time, the elderly woman gets up and approaches the two men, loudly shouting angrily that there is no place for “orkiem un vatei” in the park and that in Latvia, one should speak Latvian and only Latvian. As she walks away, she spits on one of the men’s jacket. Both men are taken aback as they didn’t expect such behavior from the woman sitting next to them.
Hate speech refers to different forms of expression that incite, promote, propagate, or justify violence, hatred, or discrimination against individuals or groups based on certain characteristics such as race/skin color, ethnic origin, language, religious belief, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and others.
What to do in a similar situation?
You can report such incidents to the Municipal Police or the State Police. Administrative penalties can be applied for such actions. According to Article 21, Point 5 of the Law on Administrative Liability, the liability for an administrative offense is increased if the motivation behind the offense is hatred towards characteristics such as race, religious belief, national affiliation, or other clearly identifiable characteristics.
Firstly, if possible, it is advisable to record audio or video evidence of the incident. Secondly, report the incident to the Municipal Police or the State Police by calling 110. You can also inform the police by sending a written statement to firstname.lastname@example.org or submitting it at the nearest police station.
Practical tip: You can also report hate speech to the Latvian Centre for Human Rights using the online reporting form at https://cilvektiesibas.org.lv/lv/database/report-hate-crime/.
Why is it important to report hate speech?
Hate speech is dangerous because it attacks the core of a person’s identity, which includes characteristics such as age, gender, skin color, nationality, religious belief, physical and mental abilities, sexual orientation, and more.
Hate speech is dangerous because it sends a message not only to the individual it is directed at but also to all members of a specific group that they are unwelcome in society, that they are not entitled to certain rights, and that they are less valuable than other members of society.
Hate speech is also dangerous because it can cause long-lasting psychological harm to the victims, affecting not only the individuals themselves but also the community they belong to, as well as the wider society. Verbal insults divide society, can escalate into regular attacks, and can lead to broader unrest.
The State police
Čiekurkalna 1.līnija 1, k- 4 , Rīga, LV – 1026
Free of charge consultation:
The Latvian Centre for Human Rights
(Latvijas Cilvēktiesību centrs)
Skolas ielā 21, 609C,
T.: (+371) 67039290
This informative material is created as part of the project “Towards a more tolerant society: information, education, support and cooperation.” The project is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and the Norwegian grant programme “Active Citizens Fund”. Make Room Europe and the Latvian Centre for Human Rights are fully responsible for the content of this material.