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Hate Speech and Constitutional Democracy in Eastern Europe: Transitional and Militant? (Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland)

  • Uladzislau Belavusau (a1)

This article departs from the normative assumptions about the status of militant democracy in transitional countries, while drawing on the constitutional appraisal of free speech and non-discrimination in Central and Eastern Europe during the period 1990–2012. It explores two models (‘American’ and ‘European’) of legal engagement with hate speech, targeting this recurrent constitutional theme to trace the militant in the transitional discourse on freedom of expression. The study scrutinises the legislative framework and the adjudication of the higher courts (constitutional, supreme and appellate courts) in three selected countries of Central and Eastern Europe – the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland – in an effort to address the dearth of literature in the English language on hate speech laws and policies in these jurisdictions. The author concludes that the discourse on transitional democracy in this post-communist constitutionalism has been substantially constructed as a form of militant democracy, despite some visible influence of the American free speech narrative.

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1 Sajó András, Freedom of Expression (Institute of Public Affairs 2004) 128.

2 Militant democracy (streitbare Demokratie) is a popular Germanic concept, designed as a remedy to prevent a repeat of the Weimar Republic's failure to react effectively to an authoritarian threat to a free democratic order (freiheitlich-demokratische Grundordnung). In line with this approach, hate speech should be excluded from the scope of the freedom of speech protection as it threatens the very foundations of democracy.

3 Loewenstein Karl, ‘Militant Democracy and Fundamental Rights’ (1937) 31 American Political Science Review 638. He identified a set of measures, undertaken by European governments to counter extremist threats (645–55). In the post-war period, the German Constitutional Court has further developed the concept of streitbare Demokratie as the ethical core of its judicial narrative.

4 On the genesis and constitutional implications of the concept, see Simard Augustin, ‘L’échec de la constitution de Weimar et les origins de la “démocratie militante” en R.F.A.’ (2008) 1 Jus Politicum: Revue de Droit Politique,,29.html; Pfersmann Otto, ‘Shaping Militant Democracy: Legal Limits to Democratic Stability’ in Sajó András (ed), Militant Democracy (Eleven International 2004) 47, 4760.

5 See Sajó András, ‘Militant Democracy and Emotional Politics’ (2012) 19 Constellations 562.

6 For an extensive account of the concept, see Teitel Ruti G, Transitional Justice (Oxford University Press 2000).

7 For a critical outlook of the transitional democracy paradigm, arguing for an alternative lens on democratisation, see Carothers Thomas, ‘The End of the Transition Paradigm’ (2002) 13 Journal of Democracy 5; Carothers Thomas, ‘How Democracies Emerge: The “Sequencing” Fallacy’ (2007) 18 Journal of Democracy 12. For a broader normative exposure of different transitional models of democracy (including CEE), see Přibáň Jiří, ‘Varieties of Transition from Authoritarianism to Democracy’ (2012) 8 Annual Review of Law and Social Science 105.

8 For a study of ‘transitional arguments’ invoked by CEE at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), see James A Sweeney, The European Court of Human Rights in the Post-Cold War Era: Universality in Transition (Routledge 2013) (in particular at 155–58, dealing with the transitional arguments by the respondent states with regard to freedom of expression).

9 See, for example, Ágh Attila, ‘The Transition to Democracy in Central Europe: A Comparative View’ (1991) 11 Journal of Public Policy 133; Visegrády Antal, ‘Transition to Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe: Experiences of a Model Country – Hungary’ (1992) 1 William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal 245; Welsh Helga A, ‘Political Transition Processes in Central and Eastern Europe’ (1994) 26 Comparative Politics 379; Febbrajo Alberto and Sadurski Wojciech (eds), Central and Eastern Europe after Transition: Towards a New Socio-Legal Semantics (Ashgate 2010). In the free speech context, see Kardos Gábor, ‘Freedom of Speech in the Time of Transition’ (1993) 8 Connecticut Journal of International Law 529.

10 See, for example, Sandra Coliver and Patrick Merloe, Guidelines for Election Broadcasting in Transitional Democracies (Article 19 1994); Demeš Pavol, Twenty Years of Western Democracy Assistance in Central and Eastern Europe (International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance 2010).

11 For a broader analysis of the militant concept in transitional democracies, see Sajó (n 1).

12 The contrasts and similarities between free speech concepts in the US and Europe are well documented. For a detailed analysis of differences between European and American approaches to hate speech, see Belavusau Uladzislau, ‘Judicial Epistemology of Free Speech through Ancient Lenses’ (2010) 23 International Journal for the Semiotics of Law 165; Rosenfeld Michel, ‘Hate Speech in Constitutional Jurisprudence: A Comparative Analysis’ (2002) 24 Cardozo Law Review 1523. For a recent contribution with a critique of the US approach (considering pro-ban arguments that primarily concern the social impact of hate speech towards its victims) see Waldron Jeremy, The Harm in Hate Speech (Harvard University Press 2012).

13 Unlike in continental Europe, the approach of the US Supreme Court has enfolded hate speech into the protective scope of the First Amendment (eg, Brandenburg v Ohio, 395 US 444 (1969); Whitney v California, 274 US 357 (1927); RAV v City St Paul, 505 US 377 (1992); Snyder v Phelps, 09-751 562 US (2011)). On the opposite side, the ECtHR has systematically found the restriction of hate speech by states compatible with limitations on freedom of expression, prescribed in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), art 10(2) (eg, Kühnen v Federal Republic of Germany App No 12194/86 (ECtHR, 1988); Soulas v France App No 15948/03 (ECtHR, 2008); Leroy v France App No 36109/03 (ECtHR, 2008); Balsytė-Lideikienė v Lithuania App No 72596/01 (ECtHR, 2008); Féret v Belgium App No 15615/07 (ECtHR, 2009); Vejdeland v Sweden App No 1813/07 (ECtHR 2012)). This constitutes perhaps the most striking discrepancy between the two principal Western free speech models.

14 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (entered into force 23 March 1976) 999 UNTS 171.

15 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (entered into force 4 January 1969) 660 UNTS 195.

16 Because of the limits of the article, it focuses exclusively on the influence of comparative jurisprudence (‘European’ and ‘American’ models) in the selected countries. The impact of the United Nations (UN) mechanism (in particular, the investigation into the reports of the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council and Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) will require different research.

17 At the level of the European Union (EU), states (including the three countries under consideration) are obliged to implement the EU Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA of 28 November 2008 on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law, [2008] OJ L 328/55. For the EU approach to hate speech, see Belavusau Uladzislau, ‘Fighting Hate Speech through EU Law’ (2012) 4 Amsterdam Law Forum 20. For a critique of the EU Council Decision, see Uladzislau Belavusau, ‘Historical Revisionism in Comparative Perspective: Law, Politics, and Surrogate Mourning’, EUI Working Paper, 2013, 12 (in particular 12–16).

18 See Möller Kai, The Global Model of Constitutional Rights (Oxford University Press 2012).

19 For a convincing assessment of proportionality and balancing, see a series of remarkable works by Israeli scholars, Cohen-Eliya Moshe and Porat Iddo, ‘Proportionality and the Culture of Justification’ (2011) 59 American Journal of Comparative Law 463, and American Balancing and German Proportionality: The Historical Origins’ (2010) 8 International Journal of Constitutional Law 263.

20 For an exemplary study, see Dupré Catherine, Importing the Law in the Post-Communist Traditions: The Hungarian Constitutional Court and the Right to Human Dignity (Hart 2003).

21 See Johnson A Ross and Parta R Eugene (eds), Cold War Broadcasting – Impact on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe: A Collection of Studies and Documents (Central European University Press 2010); Heimann Mary, Czechoslovakia: The State that Failed (Yale University Press 2009) particularly at 189–90; Szegedy-Maszák Mihály, ‘The Introduction of Communist Censorship in Hungary: 1945–49’ in Cornis-Pope Marcel and Neubauer John (eds), History of the Literary Cultures of East-Central Europe: Junctures and Disjunctures in the 19th and 20th Centuries (Vol 3, John Benjamins 2004) 114.

22 Constitution of the Republic of Poland, art 14; Constitution of the Republic of Hungary, art 61 (replaced recently by the new Fundamental Law, adopted under the Fidesz government); Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the Czech Republic, art 17.

23 This idea is particularly pronounced in the decisions of the Hungarian Constitutional Court. See Sólyom László and Brunner Georg, Constitutional Judiciary in a New Democracy (University of Michigan Press 2000) 11.

24 See Bilenky Serhiy, Romantic Nationalism in Eastern Europe: Russian, Polish, and Ukrainian Political Imaginations (Stanford University Press 2012).

25 In this respect, it is important to underline that combating hate speech is structurally different from the ban on democracy-destructing movements. Yet, as will be exposed further in the article, those movements often act as the most vigorous producers of hate speech.

26 Those minorities enjoy ‘officially recognised’ status, according to the Charter of the Council of the Government Council for National Minorities (15 June 2005) During recent years there has been an ongoing debate over extending the list of officially recognised minorities to Belarusians and Vietnamese: see Oldřich Danda, ‘Uznání Vietnamců za menšinu mohou zhatit obchody s drogami’,, 28 March 2013, As of late 2013, there are 14 officially recognised minorities in the Czech Republic (Belarusians, Bulgarians, Croatians, Hungarians, Germans, Greeks, Poles, Roma, Russians, Rusyns, Serbians, Slovaks, Vietnamese and Ukrainians).

27 European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), ‘ECRI Report on the Czech Republic (Fourth Monitoring Cycle)’ 15 September 2009, 8.

28 The Czech Constitution does not include a list of human rights. Therefore, the Charter itself forms part of the constitutional legal order.

29 Law 198/2009 on Equal Treatment and Legal Protection against Discrimination and Amending Certain Laws (Non-Discrimination Law).

30 Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 19 July 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin, [2000] OJ L 180/22.

31 Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation, [2000] OJ L 303/16.

32 Protocol No 12 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, CETS 177.

33 Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime, concerning the Criminalisation of Acts of a Racist and Xenophobic Nature Committed through Computer Systems (entered into force 1 March 2006) ETS 189.

34 From criminal practice, it should be understood as hate-aggravated offences of murder, grievous bodily harm, bodily harm, torture and other inhuman and cruel treatment, false imprisonment, unlawful restraint, kidnapping, blackmail, breach of secrecy of documents held in private, damage to private property, abuse of the authority of an official, violence against a group of persons and against an individual, as well as some military offences. For an exemplified analysis, see Kalibová Klára (ed), Zpráva o násilí z nenávisti v České republice za rok 2011 (In Iustitia 2012).

35 See Supreme Administrative Court (NSS), 57 6/2008-32, 1 February 2008. ECRI Report on the Czech Republic (n 27) 16: ‘Some local authorities, as well as many civil society actors, consider that the three-day rule itself, or at least the manner in which it is presently applied, is too strict to allow effective action to be taken to prevent neo-Nazi or other public gatherings at which racist discourse or actions that are in breach of the law can be expected.’

36 Constitutional Court (CC) 5/92, 4 September 1992.

37 Act No 557/1991 Amending and Supplementing the Criminal Code.

38 CC 29/95, 19 December 1995; CC 41/95, 24 April 1996; CC 42/95, 12 June 1996; CC 43/95, 3 July 1996; CC 44/95, 26 March 1996; CC 45/95, 11 June 1996; CC 1/96, 19 November 1996; CC 4/96, 10 June 1996; CC 38/03, 13 January 2004; CC 68/04, 6 June 2006.

39 European Union, Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, 7 December 2000, [2000] OJ C 364/01.

40 CC 1174/04, 27 January 2010.

41 The Supreme Court is the highest appeal court, except for administrative and constitutional cases, with jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases.

42 Council Directive 2000/43/EC (n 30).

43 See Case C-54/07, Centrum voor gelijkheid van kansen en voor racismebestnijding v Firma Feryn NV [2008] ECR I-5187. For a detailed examination of the judgment and developments on hate speech in EU law see Belavusau (n 17).

44 Supreme Court (SC) 5 Tdo 337/2002, 24 July 2002.

45 ECRI Report on the Czech Republic (n 27) 20.

46 ibid.

47 On the dissolution of the populist Workers' Party in the context of militant democracy, see Miroslav Mareš, ‘Czech Militant Democracy in Action: Dissolution of the Workers’ Party and the Wider Context of this Act' (2012) 26 East European Politics and Societies 33.

48 The First Amendment jurisprudence of the US Supreme Court relies on the presumption of the inadmissibility of ‘content-based restrictions’, ie a restriction on the exercise of free speech based on subject matter or type of speech. Such restraint is permissible only if it is based on a compelling state interest and is so narrowly worded that it achieves only that purpose.

49 See Miroslava Nezvalová, ‘Zpívání o “bílé revoluci” vyneslo hudebníkovi tři roky vězení’,, 29 July 2009,

50 ECRI Report on the Czech Republic (n 27) 21.

51 Wiedermann Clemens, ‘Czech Republic’ in Falkner Gerda, Treib Oliver and Holzleithner Elisabeth (eds), Compliance in the Enlarged European Union: Living Rights or Dead Letters? (Ashgate 2008) 35.

52 Somewhat symbolically, the first case on hate speech before the Czech Constitutional Court (in a series of similar cases, described earlier in the context of the Constitutional Court decisions) also originated from Ústí nad Labem. In the former case from the early 1990s, local authorities had been rather over-zealous in their willingness to translate the hate speech clause from the Criminal Code into a local act.

53 Supreme Court (SC) 30 Cdo 4431/2007, 28 March 2007.

54 See the case note by Pavla Boučková, ‘Supreme Court Decides on Amounts of Compensation Awarded in Racial Discrimination Cases’, European Network of Legal Experts in the Non-Discrimination Field, 4 January 2010.

55 CC 1174/04, 27 January 2010 (n 40) and accompanying text.

56 ECRI Report on the Czech Republic (n 27) 21–22.

57 For an appraisal of the Hungarian national tradition in legal settings, see Péteri Zoltán, ‘National Tradition and Outside Influence in the History of Human Rights in Hungary’ (1996) 3 Journal of Constitutional Law in Eastern and Central Europe 145.

58 For a more detailed account of the Hungarian minorities in the context of human rights protection, see Paczolay Péter, ‘Human Rights and Minorities in Hungary’ (1996) 3 Journal of Constitutional Law in Eastern and Central Europe 111.

59 Emmanuelle Causse, ‘Hungary’ in Falkner, Treib and Holzleithner (n 51) 61.

60 Uitz Renáta, ‘Hungary – High Hopes Revisited’ in Morlino Leonardo and Sadurski Wojciech (eds), Democratization and the European Union: Comparing Central and Eastern Post-Communist Countries (Routledge 2010) 45.

61 ECRI, ‘ECRI Report on Hungary (Fourth Monitoring Cycle)’ 24 February 2009, 7.

62 n 32.

63 n 33.

64 ECRI Report on Hungary (n 61) 12.

65 Act CIV of 2010 on the Freedom of the Press and the Fundamental Rules on Media Content.

66 The law has been widely criticised by the Hungarian and European press. Moreover, the text of the new Hungarian Constitution developed by the Fidesz (Hungarian Civic Union) government has been condemned as authoritarian. See, inter alia, Ian Traynor, ‘Hungary Begins First EU Presidency with Warnings over Press Freedom’, The Guardian, 3 January 2011,

67 Halmai Gábor, ‘Criminal Law as Means against Racist Speech? The Hungarian Legal Approach’ (1997) 4 Journal of Constitutional Law in Eastern and Central Europe 41, 42. Similarly, Petér Molnár makes an important observation that during the communist years ‘the primary use of the incitement provision was to protect the ruling totalitarian ideology from dissent. The ideological character of the Criminal Code is effectively captured in the provision “insult against a community”, which included “socialist conviction” among the listed targets, instead of including political conviction in general’: see Molnár Petér, ‘Towards Improved Law and Policy on “Hate Speech” – The “Clear and Present Danger” Test in Hungary’ in Hare Ivan and Weinstein James (eds), Extreme Speech and Democracy (Oxford University Press 2009) 237, 243.

68 Decision of the Constitutional Court, 30/1992.

69 Sadurski Wojciech, Rights before Courts: A Study of Constitutional Courts in Post-communist States of Central and Eastern Europe (Springer 2005) 161.

70 Molnár (n 67) 238.

71 Here and further, Decision of the Constitutional Court 30/1992.

72 Sajó András, ‘Hate Speech for Hostile Hungarians’ (1994) 3 East European Constitutional Review 82, 84.

73 Gábor Halmai deduces an original vision of the Hungarian Court stemming from the metaphor of ‘mother right of communicative rights’ that the Court uses for freedom of expression. Following Jürgen Habermas, he describes communicative rights as those that enable the citizen to form and express opinions or voluntarily refrain from communicating. In more usual parlance these are the rights to free speech, freedom of information, freedom of the press, freedom of association and privacy: see Halmai Gábor, ‘“Communicative Rights” in the Hungarian Constitutional Practice’ (1996) 3 Journal of Constitutional Law in Eastern and Central Europe 181.

74 Chaplinsky v New Hampshire, 315 US 568, 572 (1942).

75 Beauharnais v Illinois, 343 US 250 (1952) 272–73.

76 Sajó (n 72) 86. See also Scheppele Kim Lane, ‘Limitations on Fundamental Rights: Comparing Hungarian and American Constitutional Jurisprudence’ (2001) 8 Journal of Constitutional Law in Eastern and Central Europe 53.

77 Collin v Smith, 439 US 916 (1978). In the literature, the case is often referred to as Skokie (a Chicago suburb with a predominantly Jewish population).

78 R A V v City St. Paul, 505 US 377 (1992).

79 László Sólyom, ‘The Interaction between the Case Law of the ECHR and the Protection of Freedom of Speech in Hungary’ in (2000) Protection des droits de l'homme: la perspective européene. Mélanges à la mémoire de Rolv Ryssdal 1317, 1320.

80 Sadurski (n 69) 161–62.

81 ibid 161–62.

82 ibid 162.

83 Scheppele (n 76) 59 (substantially echoing the wording of Sólyom from Decision of the Constitutional Court 64/1992, (XII 21) AB).

84 Decision of the Constitutional Court 12/1999, (V 21) AB.

85 Decision of the Constitutional Court 18/2004, (V 25) AB.

86 Decision of the Constitutional Court 95/2008, (VII 3) AB.

87 Decision of the Constitutional Court 96/2008, (VII 3) AB.

88 Decision of the Constitutional Court 14/2000, (V 12) AB. The pending of the case before the Constitutional Court is characterised by the considerable slow-down in the renowned activism of the Hungarian court. Although the petition was submitted long before, the judgment of the Constitutional Court appeared only in 2000. Gábor Halmai explains this longer ‘lead time’ by the fact that in previous years the majority of the activist Sólyom Court began to hesitate over the nature of the right of freedom of expression as a ‘mother right’, especially in such cases as the constitutionality of the provision criminalising the defamation of national symbols or the use of totalitarian symbols: see Halmai Gábor, ‘The Transformation of Hungarian Constitutional Law from 1985 to 2005’ in Jakab András, Takács Péter and Tatham Allan F (eds), The Transformation of Hungarian Legal Order 1985–2005 (Kluwer 2007) 1, 910.

89 Interestingly, the national court linked the question with the fundamental principle of non-discrimination and equal treatment in EU law, in particular stemming from art 6 of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU) [2008] OJ C115/13 and Directive 2000/43/EC (n 30). In October 2005, the CJEU declared that it had no jurisdiction to answer the question referred by the national court. The Budapest regional court had to uphold the applicant's conviction. The case is a brilliant illustration of the raising of forum shopping between Strasbourg and Luxembourg in the ‘European’ adjudication of non-discrimination cases.

90 The discussion of the use of ‘fascist symbols’ usually relates to the public manifestation of the so-called Árpád flag of the Arrow Cross, Hungary's extreme National Socialist party. The Arrow Cross was adopted as a state symbol for a few months in 1944, during which thousands of Roma and Jews were murdered. Several radical right organisations use the symbol during their assemblies.

91 Vajnai v Hungary App No 33629/06 (ECtHR, 8 July 2008). Two factors were taken into account. Mr Vajnai was a politician not participating in the exercise of powers conferred by public law. Secondly, almost two decades had elapsed since Hungary's transition to pluralism. The Court found that the star also symbolises the international workers' movement, struggling for a fairer society, and certain lawful political parties active in different High Contracting Parties of the Council of Europe. The government, according to the Court, failed to show that wearing a red star exclusively means identification with totalitarian ideas, especially when viewed in the light of the fact that the applicant did so at a lawfully organised, peaceful demonstration.

92 Decision of the Constitutional Court 4/2013, (II 21) AB.

93 ECRI Report on Hungary (n 61) 8.

94 For an account of the history of Hungarian Jewry, see George Konrád, The Invisible Voice: Mediations on Jewish Themes (Peter Reich (tr), Harcourt 2000).

95 Gruber Ruth Ellen, ‘East-Central Europe’, in Singer David (ed), American Jewish Year Book (American Jewish Committee 1998) 342, 348.

96 ECRI Report on Hungary (n 61) 24. In January 2008, the Prosecutor General initiated court proceedings to ban the Hungarian Guard.

97 See Charles McPhedran, ‘Official Terror for Hungary's Roma’, The Global Mail, 7 February 2012,

98 The party is called Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom, which literally means ‘The Movement for a Better Hungary’: see Michael S Salberg, ‘Anti-Semitism in Hungary’, The New York Times, 25 April 2012.

99 For a description of the intimidating obstruction of the court proceedings, see ECRI Report on Hungary (n 61) 24.

100 For an English language account of the complicated Polish identity, embracing several pre-modern ethnicities, see Snyder Timothy, The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569–1999 (Yale University Press 2003).

101 For an account of Polish history and the role of zabory (partitions), see Zdrada Jerzy, Historia Polski 1795–1914 (PWN 2005).

102 On the complicated national identity of ‘Polish Germans’, see Bjork James E, Neither German Nor Pole: Catholicism and National Indifference in a Central European Borderland (University of Michigan Press 2008).

103 For a sociological account of Polish minorities, see Dressler Wanda (ed), Le second printemps des nations: sur les ruines d'un Empire, questions nationales et minoritaires en Pologne (Haute Silésie, Biélorussie polonaise), Estonie, Moldavie, Kazakhstan (Bruylant 1999).

104 Kowalski Sergiusz and Tulli Magdalena, Zamiast procesu. Raport o mowie nienawiści (WAB 2003).

105 See Gross Jan T, Fear – Anti-Semitism in Poland after Auschwitz: An Essay in Historical Interpretation (Random House 2006) 192243; Chodakiewicz Marek Jan, After the Holocaust. Polish-Jewish Conflict in the Wake of World II (Columbia University Press 2003).

106 Olga Wysocka, ‘Populism: The Polish Case’, PhD thesis, European University Institute, 2010, 10.

107 ibid.

108 Adam Bodnar, ‘Poland: EU Driven Democracy?’ in Morlino and Sadurski (n 60) 19.

109 Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime (n 33).

110 On 4 May 2010, the European Commission referred Poland to the Court of Justice of the EU for incorrectly implementing Directive 2000/43/EC (n 30). The Commission pointed out that Poland had not transposed the Directive outside the field of employment.

111 For accounts of homophobic hate speech in Poland, see Szczęsny Jerzy, ‘Retoryka antyhomoseksualna w Trzeciej Rzeszy’ in Wyrzykowski Mirosław and Bodnar Adam (eds), Przekonania moralne władzy publicznej a wolność jednostki (Uniwersytet Warszawski 2007) 55; Biedroń Robert, ‘Wprowadzenie do raportu’ in Czarnecki Greg (ed), Raport o homofobicznej mowie nienawiści w Polsce (Kampania Przeciw Homofobii 2009) 7.

112 See Eleonora Zielińska, ‘Opinia w sprawie projektu zmian kodeksu karnego’ in Czarnecki, ibid 77.

113 Lech Gardocki, Prawo karne (CH Beck 2006) 297.

114 For a detailed analysis of the amendment, see Woiński Mateusz, ‘Projekty nowelizacji art. 256 k.k.’ in Wieruszewski Roman and others (eds), Mowa nienawiści a wolność słowa. Aspekty prawne i społeczne (Wolters Kluwer Polska 2010) 21.

115 See text at nn 88–92.

116 See text at nn 48–49.

117 Judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal (Trybunał Konstytucyjny) K 5/07 (19 September 2008). For an examination of the judgment, see Belavusau (n 17) 18–19.

118 Judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal (Trybunał Konstytucyjny) K 11/10 (19 July 2011).

119 Part III of the decision is even specifically entitled ‘The Standards and Jurisprudence of Other European States and of the European Court of Human Rights’ (Standardy i orzecznictwo innych państw oraz Europejskiego Trybunału Praw Człowieka).

120 Judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal K 11/10 (n 118) paras 3.3.3 and

121 ibid para

122 For the monitoring of hate speech utterances on Radio Maryja, see

123 ECRI, ‘ECRI Report Poland (Fourth Monitoring Cycle)’ 15 June 2010, 26.

124 ibid.

125 For the monitoring of hate speech instances, see the reports of the Open Republic Association against Antisemitism and Xenophobia,

126 On the peculiarities of the Polish attachment to the church and the role of religion in the national identity of Poles, see Marody Mira and Mandes Sławomir, ‘On Functions of Religion in Molding the National Identity of Poles’ (2006) 35 International Journal of Sociology 49. The authors analyse historical relationships between religion and the formation of nationhood. They argue that the formation of nationhood in Europe was related to the growth of ‘secular rituals’ that could not develop in Poland because of its prolonged lack of political sovereignty. Religion was, and still is, the main source of collective rituals through which national identity was formed and is sustained in Polish society.

127 Available at (statements in Polish: ‘Policja powinna chronić rynek przed marszem pedałów i innych zboczeńców […] jeszcze w średniowieczu ludzi o takich skłonnościach palono na stosach, […] może powrócimy do tych wspaniałych czasów jeszcze i tych ludzi będzie się palić na stosach. Miejmy nadzieję!’).

128 For details see Kornak Marcin, ‘Brunasta księga – Katalog wypadków’ (2000–01) 12 Nigdy Więcej. See also an article in a Polish newspaper, ‘Świtoń jest winny’, Rzeczpospolita,

129Wyzwolimy Polskę od euro-zdrajców, Żydów, masonów i rządowej mafii’.

130 ECRI Report on Poland (n 123) 14.

131Nawoływanie do nienawiści z powodów wymienionych w art. 256 k.k. – w tym na tle różnic narodowościowych – sprowadza się do tego typu wypowiedzi, ktore wzbudzają uczucia silnej niechęci, złości, braku akceptacji, wręcz wrogości do poszczególnych osób lub całych grup społecznych czy wyznaniowych bądz też z uwagi na formę wypowiedzi podtrzymują i nasilają takie negatywne nastawienia i podkreślają tym samym uprzywilejowanie, wyższość określonego narodu, grupy etnicznej, rasy lub wyznania’: Decision of the Supreme Court (Sąd Najwyższy) IV KK 406/06 (5 February 2007).

132 Resolution of the Supreme Court (Sąd Najwyższy) I KZP 5/02 (28 March 2002).

133 Statement of the Court in Polish: ‘Propagowanie, w rozumieniu art. 256 k.k., oznacza każde zachowanie polegające na publicznym prezentowaniu faszystowskiego lub innego totalitarnego ustroju państwa, w zamiarze przekonania do niego’ (ibid).

134 Pankowski Rafał and Kornak Marcin, ‘Poland’ in Mudde Cas (ed), Racist Extremism in Central and Eastern Europe (Routledge 2005). On the recent NGO initiative to use an electronic filter to identify hate speech on the internet, see also Joanna Klimowicz, ‘Obieg mowy nienawiści w internecine’, Gazeta Wyborcza, 18 April 2011,,75478,9459039,Obieg_mowy_nienawisci_w_internecie.html.

135 Judgment of the District Court of Wrocław, Second instance, IV Ka 978/10.

136 See, inter alia, Filip Jan, ‘Dogmatika svobody projevu z hlediska teorie, legislativy a soudní praxe’ (1998) 4 Časopis pro právní vědu a praxi 618. The author engages in a thorough normative discussion of the fighting words and clear and present danger tests. See also two books on freedom of speech, extensively introducing the First Amendment judgments of the US Supreme Court for a Czech readership: Jäger Petr and Molek Pavel, Svoboda projevu: Demokracie, rovnost a svoboda slova (Auditorium 2007); Bartoň Michal, Svoboda projevu a její meze v právu České republiky (Linde 2002).

137 This point requires a disclaimer on a certain inconsistency in anti-communist stance. For example, the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (which did not even drop the name ‘communist’ from its title) is not only legal but is currently the third most popular party.

138 Přibáň Jiří and Sadurski Wojciech, ‘The Role of Political Rights in the Democratization of Central and Eastern Europe’ in Sadurski Wojciech (ed), Political Rights under Stress in 21st Century Europe (Oxford University Press 2006) 196, 224.

139 For a detailed account, see Belavusau Uladzislau, ‘Instrumentalisation of Freedom of Expression in Postmodern Legal Discourses’ (2010) 3 European Journal of Legal Studies 145.

The author is grateful to Michal Bobek (Bruges), Aleksandra Gliszczyńska-Grabias (Poznań), Morag Goodwin (Tilburg), Dominik Moskvan (Antwerp), Jiří Přibáň (Cardiff) and Wojciech Sadurski (Sydney), as well as to anonymous peer reviewers of the Israel Law Review for helpful feedback on the draft versions. The wider argument from this article is exposed in a monograph: Uladzislau Belavusau, Freedom of Speech: Importing European and US Constitutional Models in Transitional Democracies (Routledge 2013).

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Israel Law Review
  • ISSN: 0021-2237
  • EISSN: 2047-9336
  • URL: /core/journals/israel-law-review
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