Project to address hate speech in Georgia begins
Support from EU helps look at a litmus test for human rights and social tolerance
Limiting and preventing hate speech in public life is crucial to Georgia’s peaceful and democratic development, because many of the country’s conflicts have dimensions that relate to ethnic, religious or other vulnerable groups. The Heinrich Boell Foundation, together with partners and supported by the European Commission, has initiated a project — “Addressing Hate Speech in Georgia: A Litmus Test for Human Rights and Social Tolerance” — to examine how much hate speech is present in Georgia’s politics and media, and to limit some of its effects. Existing violations of vulnerable groups’ rights constitute a threat to the stability of the Georgian state, and pose a potential risk to regional stability as well, as they hold potential to escalate into wider conflicts.
Considering that Georgia is a country in threefold transition to democracy, market economy and a nation-state, hate speech is an issue of concern that requires adequate regulations. To fill this gap the following actives are part of the project: research to identify attitudes toward vulnerable groups; media monitoring to identify expressions of discriminatory speech towards ethnic, religious and sexual minorities in selected Georgian printed media outlets; workshops to support capacity building for journalists; and awareness-raising conducted by public debates, radio programs and published articles. The final goal of the project is to make policy recommendations targeted to decision-makers in Georgia. The public opening of the project will take place Wednesday, April 6 in the premises of the Heinrich Boell Foundation on the occasion of a public debate on “Hate Speech in Georgia: What is the Borderline between Freedom of Expression and Crime?”
The Heinrich Boell Foundation is undertaking the project with the following partners:
Internews Georgia a non-profit organization, which contributes to an effort to promote the freedom of information in Georgia and to strengthen Georgian electronic media.
Association Atinati operates in Zugdidi and is the first non-governmental organization founded in the Samegrelo region. The mission of Association ATINATI is to support the formation of a democratic society trough education, development of civil society, support of vulnerable people and mass media.
The Human Rights Information and Documentation Center (HRIDC) is one of the leading human rights organizations in Georgia with offices in Tbilisi and four Georgian regions. The HRIDC is dedicated to the protection and promotion of human rights, the rule of law and peace in Georgia. The HRIDC documents cases of human rights violations and issues reports on selected issues.