Today in Luxembourg the EU Council of Ministers are discussing this document, Proposal for a Council Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia. [pdf] It is an appalling piece of legislation that has to be stopped.
I would just like to pick out my favourite aspects.
(5a) Member States acknowledge that combating racism and xenophobia require various kinds of measures in a comprehensive framework and may not be limited to criminal matters. This Framework Decision is limited to combating particularly serious forms of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law. Since the Member States’ cultural and legal traditions are, to some extent, different, particularly in this field, full harmonisation of criminal laws is currently not possible.
As Tim Worstall points out, that word “currently” just encapsulates the arrogance and desire of the EU to harmonise, harmonise and harmonise. Well I rather like the English common law system thank you very much.
(8) It should be ensured that investigations and prosecutions of offences involving racism and xenophobia are not dependent on reports or accusation made by victims, who are often particularly vulnerable and reluctant to initiate legal proceedings.
Leaving the field open for the EU to initiate proceedings. Now I know that the Police or CPS can already bring charges against people without the supposed victims consent, but I don’t like the idea that the EU will be able to initiate proceedings on this matter. Xenophobia, being a state of mind rather than an action will find itself defined by judges and lawyers, the EU's judges and lawyers. Not a prospect that fills me with confidence.
Offences concerning racism and xenophobia
(d) publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising the crimes defined in Article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal appended to the London Agreement of 8 August 1945, directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin when the conduct is carried out in a manner likely to incite to violence or hatred against such a group or a member of such a group.
“Grossly trivialising”, hmmm. So bad jokes could come under this remit, of the “My grand dad died at Auschwitz. He got drunk and fell out of a watch tower” type thing could be included. Oh boy.
2. Any Member State may, at the time of the adoption of this Framework Decision by the Council, make a statement that it will make denying or grossly trivialising the crimes referred to in paragraph 1(c) and/or (d) punishable only if the crimes referred to in these paragraphs have been established by a final decision of a national court of this Member State and/or an international court or by a final decision of an international court only.
That little “and/or” will allow national courts to be overruled once a case is taken up to the European Court of Justice.
Sanctions for legal persons
1. Each Member State shall take the necessary measures to ensure that a legal person held liable pursuant to Article 5(1) is punishable by effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions, which shall include criminal or non criminal fines and may include other sanctions, such as:
(a) exclusion from entitlement to public benefits or aid;
(b) temporary or permanent disqualification from the practice of commercial activities;
(c) placing under judicial supervision;
(d) a judicial winding up order.
So you can be locked up (1-3 years) and then when you get out you can be barred from working, and to make matters even better you cannot get benefits...
I have a friend whose grandfather was a copper in Antwerp during the war. A run of the mill copper. He was charged with collaboration in 1946, and convicted. After 4 years in prison he faced these penalties. No job, no benefits, and he was allowed to vote for the first time in 1986. Though ashamed his family looked after him throughout the forty years.
Today people (Lib Dems and Labour) are talking about giving prisoners the vote, the self same people are supporting laws that would deny it for “thought crime”.
I know that this legislation is trying to make a future dictatorship less likely. But our common law system has protected us from dictatorship far better than the Napoleonic system seems to have done for the Continent. And frankly I trust it far more than anything concocted to get over German guilt.
So please can I encourage any of you who are reading this to write about this so that people know quite how bad things are getting over here in ‘Free Europe’.