An experience of a foreign student on Facebook
A foreign student in Latvia, a Nigerian citizen, posted pictures from his birthday party at a bar on his Facebook profile. The pictures showed a joyful celebration in the company of friends. His circle of friends is quite diverse, including local students from Latvia and several foreign students from different countries. Under the birthday’s Facebook post, there were several comments insulting the students seen in the pictures, calling them monkeys, stating that “all foreigners from Africa are rapists,” and even threatening that “if I see you on the street, I’ll show you not to come to Riga anymore.”
Hate speech is various 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.
Articles 78 and 150 of the Criminal Law specify liability for incitement to hatred, violence, and discrimination, as well as for denigration and dehumanization of groups of people.
What to do in a similar situation?
Firstly, take screenshots of the specific publication/comment.
Secondly, save the link to the specific content.
Thirdly, report it to the website administration using reporting tools or by writing directly to the provided email address on the website to remove the illegal content as soon as possible, and/or report it to the State Police. You can report to the police by submitting a written application to firstname.lastname@example.org or by submitting it at the nearest police station.
For hate speech based on race/skin color, ethnic origin, or religion, you can also report it in writing to the State Security Service by writing to email@example.com.
Advice: You can also report hate speech to the Latvian Centre for Human Rights using the online reporting form: https://cilvektiesibas.org.lv/en/database/report-hate-crime/ .
Why is it important to report hate speech?
Hate speech is dangerous because it is an attack on 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 targeted individual but also to all members of a particular group that they are not welcome in society, that they are undeserving of 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 cause broader unrest.
The State police
Čiekurkalna 1.līn. 1, k-4,
State Security Service
Kr.Barona iela 99a, Rīga, LV-1012
Tālr.: (+371) 67208964
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.