Suggested recommendations to Greece on combating racism and abolishing blasphemy laws

INTERNATIONAL HUMANIST AND ETHICAL UNION (IHEU)
EUROPEAN HUMANIST FEDERATION (EHF)
HUMANIST UNION OF GREECE (HUG)



Suggested recommendations to Greece on combating racism and abolishing blasphemy laws

30 August 2016

Our organizations welcome UN CERD’s concluding observations published on 29 August 2016 and request that the issues raised therein are integrated in the HRC’s recommendations to Greece.

In particular, Greece should be urged to:

  • accept that the fundamental right of freedom of expression should not undermine the principles of dignity, tolerance, equality and non-discrimination as the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special responsibilities, among which is the obligation not to disseminate ideas on racial superiority or hatred, a principle reiterated by UN CERD;
  • abolish articles 198 and 199 on blasphemy from its Criminal Code[2] that are used in a discriminatory manner only in cases of blasphemy against the official Orthodox Christian religion, as recommended by UN CERD.

[1]  “While the [antiracism] law covers the recommendation contained in § 18 c of ECRI’s General Policy Recommendation (GPR) No. 7 on national legislation to combat racism and racial discrimination, which relates to racist threats, it does not address those in §§ 18 b, referring to insults and defamation, or 18 f, concerning the public dissemination, public distribution or production or storage of racist material [emphasis added]

[2] Article 198 of Criminal Code (CC): “Malicious Blasphemy: 1. One who publicly and maliciously and by any means blasphemes God shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than two years. 2. Except for cases under paragraph 1, one who by blasphemy publicly manifests a lack of respect for the divinity, shall be punished by jailing for not more than six months or by pecuniary penalty of not more than 3,000 euros.” Article 199 CC: “ Blasphemy Concerning Religions: One who publicly and maliciously and by any means blasphemes the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ or any other religion tolerated in Greece shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than two years.”

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