Similar to other discriminated persons in the EU, persons with disabilities are at higher risk of being victims of hate speech and hate crime. In general, persons with disabilities, including women with disabilities, and persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities, are at higher risk of harassment, violence and crime, including within the digital world. Recent data published by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency revealed that 50% of persons with disabilities have reported being harassed over a 5-year period (comparing to 37% of persons without disabilities).
Yet, disability related hate speech and hate crime are not recognised and sanctioned as such by all EU Member States and in EU law. Current EU legislation on hate speech and hate crime do not cover the grounds of disability, age, gender and sexual orientation.
The European Commission is currently conducting two consultations on the topic, to potentially include hate speech and hate crime in the list of EU crimes and add new grounds:
- A targeted consultation, in the form of a questionnaire seeking information from EU Member States and at EU level (deadline 10th of April extended until 16th of April)
- A general consultation on the roadmap initiative (deadline 20th of April)
EDF encourages organisations of persons with disabilities and individuals to participate to raise the specific issues faced by persons with disabilities.
We have submitted a position paper with background information and recommendations. We recommend that the EU:
- Involve representative organisations of persons with disabilities
- In the design, development, implementation and monitoring of initiatives related to combatting hate speech and hate crime
- In the design, delivery, and monitoring of victim support services
- Extend the list of EU crimes to cover hate speech and hate crime and cover the grounds of disability, age, gender (in line with the list of discrimination grounds under Article 19 TEFU).
- Ensure that minimum rules on the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the areas of hate speech and hate crime take into account bias based on disability, including the digital domain, and that the disability of the victims never allows for lighter sentences for the perpetrator.
- Take measures to improve the rights of victims with disabilities, including to ensure they can adequately report the offence or crime to national authorities (in light of EDF recommendations on the EU Strategy on Victims’ Rights 2020-2024), and that they receive accessibility and inclusive support. Expansion of third-party reporting mechanisms could also be considered.
- Support the creation by Member States of mandatory training on disability rights for all law enforcement and criminal justice system officials.
- Collect data on hate speech and hate crime, including in online environments, disaggregated by the motivation bias (including disability-bias), and the victims’ disability, gender and age.
Read our position paper
Marine Uldry, EDF Human Rights Officer (email@example.com)