The recently-established Hate Crime and Speech Unit has launched a notice to the public about some of the recent cases which have been circling on social media.
The unit says that these are clearly examples of Hate Speech as envisaged in Article 82A, Chapter 9 of the Criminal Code of Malta.
Certainly in these cases there is clear intent on behalf of the perpetrator to incite violence and discrimination based on the victims’ personal views and attributes.
The Hate Crime and Speech Unit is recommending that in the vast majority of cases it is better that reports are placed with the Unit prior to exposing the issue in public, allowing for the wrongdoer to remove all the evidence as soon as he/she is made aware that a formal report is going to be made to the unit. This, in turn, makes it harder for the Unit to investigate further.
“Nonetheless we always do our utmost to investigate,” the unit said.
Everyone needs to bear in mind that in a court of law, edited information such as in some of these cases, does not constitute evidence and thus it would be necessary for the unit to present the link itself upon which the perpetrator commented/posted, or a screenshot and not an edited form. This needs to be done as, in a criminal court it is the best evidence that has to be presented.
Reporting Hate Speech
In cases of online hate speech, it is essential that for the unit to be able to proceed from their end as a unit with a formal complaint in the form of a kwerela, a report must include the following:
- A screenshot of the post/comment
- The URL link to the alleged offender’s profile & a screenshot of the profile
- The URL link of where the post/comment was originally published
This is being requested solely to ensure that no miscarriage of justice occurs due to lack of evidence or due to a procedural defect. The moment the Unit is given such information it will proceed further with the case to ensure the relevant court action is taken. It will help us a great deal if people who notice hate speech on social media, report to us on our different mediums prior to exposing the issue in public.