It is proposed to criminalise public calls for exerting violence and publicly justifying or advocating violence


During the session of the Government of 6 June 2019, the Prime Minister assigned the Ministry of Justice to consider the appropriateness of criminalisation of calls for violence. Based on this assignment, the Ministry of Justice has conducted a study of the existing legislative regulations, as well as the international standards and practice of the fight against hate speech. As a result of the study, the draft Law of the Republic of Armenia "On making a supplement to the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia" was developed and presented for public consideration; the Law proposes to envisage liability for making public calls to exert violence dangerous to the life or health of a person, for publicly justifying violence dangerous to the life or health of a person or for advocating such violence

Dissemination of hate speech in Armenia, the public concerns about this, as well as the need for prevention of intolerance, discrimination and growth of violence were taken into consideration while developing the draft.

The adopted approach in the draft Law is hinged on the recommendations given by international organisations dealing with human rights protection. In particular, the EU Framework Decision on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law states that Member States shall take the measures necessary to ensure that publicly inciting to violence or hatred, as well as publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising certain international crimes likely to incite to violence or hated, is punishable.

Pursuant to the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance General Policy Recommendation No. 15 on Combating Hate Speech, "hate speech" may be intended to incite others to terrorism, violence, hostility or discrimination. The aforementioned Recommendation states several times the position that criminal liability must be applied for extreme manifestation of "hate speech". In particular, the Commission has encouraged States to stipulate criminal liability for publicly inciting violence, hatred or discrimination.

In its 2017 Recommendation for Armenia, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination encourages a State to stipulate liability for hate crimes by the criminal code of the particular State.

The same logic is marked in Recommendation No. R (97) 20 of the Council of Europe on "Hate Speech", and pursuant to Principle 2 of the Recommendation, "the governments of the member states should establish or maintain a sound legal framework against incitement to hatred which will, in each case, ensure the necessary balance between freedom of expression and protection of the rights and dignity of others".

The aim of the draft is to lead an adequate fight against extreme manifestations of hate speech. In particular, the criminal liability tool is necessary in cases when hate speech is aimed at inciting to violence against certain persons or a group of persons. The manifestations of hate speech inciting to violence have been criminalised in this or that way in several countries, including Canada, the Russian Federation, Spain, Belgium, Romania, France, Poland, Moldova and other countries.