International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Article 20 (2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states:

Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.

Article 20(2) of the ICCPR articulates the main and most comprehensive international standard that should guide the legal regulation of hate speech. This Article sets forth the right to be free from incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence resulting from the advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred. Thus, Article 20(2) elevates the claim to be free from incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence resulting from advocacy of hatred to the status of an international legal human right.

As a consequence of the inclusion of Article 20(2) within the text of the ICCPR, the protection from incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence represents 1) a public interest that enhances the values of tolerance, mutual respect and dignity; and 2) an international human right enjoyed by all targets of such incitement. Moreover, Article 20(2) puts forward a standard that must be met by all who engage in hate speech.

The individuals exposed here for bigotry and hate have all violated this human right by denigrating a religion and inciting discrimination, hostility and, in a number of instances specified therein, violence which the perpetrators claim was caused by the incitement of hatred through biased media.


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