No disgRACE in this electoral race!

No disgRACE in this electoral race! Recording and combating hate speech and racism during the 2014 electoral cycle in Romania.

This project tackles the spread of hate speech in Romania, which emerges as a reaction to the international controversies around Roma migrants in other EU states. It will be implemented within the context of the upcoming Presidential elections. The project will monitor, evaluate and analyze racist and xenophobic public discourse of politicians and journalists, reflected in both traditional (online and TV) and new media; refer them to the relevant authorities and formulate evidence-based policy recommendations for countering hate-speech and incitement against the Roma. The reaction of the public institutions entrusted with sanctioning hate speech will also be included. Following the monitoring period, the data will be analyzed and will lead to a policy paper, formulating recommendations for discouraging hate speech and othering of minorities for electoral gain. Such recommendations envisage legislative improvements for raising the efficiency of institutions with competences in this area and for encouraging collaboration among them. Also, the project will encourage the collaboration of grass-roots voices against hate speech encourage public debate and consolidate the NGO partnership in this area. The project will conclude with a conference presenting the main findings and recommendations to representatives of the civil society, political parties and relevant public institutions.

The overall objective of the project is to contribute to the curbing of hate speech for electoral gain in Romania and discourage discriminatory policy initiatives affecting the Roma community.

This can be achieved by having a better understanding of the hate speech phenomenon as manifested in connection with the electoral process and by increasing the institutional capacity of public authorities with competences in this field to sanction politicians and journalists responsible for such statements. Moreover, another avenue for increasing the number of reported cases of hate speech is network-building and facilitation of the inclusion of anti-discrimination grass-roots voices into large platforms addressing issues of good governance and rule of law. This will have a double effect: it will provide independent bloggers concerned with Roma rights the policy and communications tools to reach a broader audiences, while at the same time it will lead to a mainstreaming of human rights and anti-discrimination policies into the general political debate. Finally, in order to also discourage policy initiatives which have a direct or indirect discriminatory effect upon the Roma community; it is also essential to spark public debates on such topics from the political agenda.

Objectives:

Objective 1 Monitoring and evaluating the phenomenon of hate speech against the Roma during and in between political campaigns in Romania
Objective 2 – Countering the false and populist political statements made in the form of hate speech through fact checking
Objective 3 – Improving the legal framework prohibiting hate speech and discrimination in Romania and its enforcement by implementing the conclusions reached in the relevant jurisprudence in the field of hate speech.
Objective 4 – Encouraging public debate on policies designed for the inclusion of the Roma through monitoring such initiatives, supporting grass-root anti-discrimination actors and discussing their implications.

Project Partners:
Romanian Academic Society (SAR) –  coordinator 
Policy Center for Roma and Minorities (http://policycenter.eu/ )

Implementation period: June 1, 2014 – September 1, 2015

Financed by: Open Society Foundations (OSF) – Think Tank Fund and Roma Initiatives Office (RIO).

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