Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Prosecuting Politicians For Hate Speech in Finland

Heli Askola, Monash University Faculty of Law, is publishing `Taking the Bait? Lessons from a ‘Hate Speech' Prosecution, in the Canadian Journal of Law and Society  (2014). Here is the abstract.

This article uses one case study to explore the use of criminal "hate speech" provisions against populist politicians. In a high-profile Finnish case, a populist politician was found guilty of hate speech after a 4-year criminal process. Though the prosecution was ultimately successful, the various problems with the case helped boost the political popularity of the accused, who was turned into a well-known public figure and Member of Parliament. The case might thus be seen to warn against tackling populist politicians through the criminal law. However, further analysis of the political context and a comparison with the Dutch prosecution against anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders complicate this conclusion. This article examines the consequences of hate speech prosecutions of politicians and sheds light on the conditions under which they can achieve (some of) their aims. The case also has lessons for other jurisdictions about when hate speech prosecutions of politicians are likely to be successful in terms of countering prejudice and disempowering those who spread it for electoral purposes.

The full text is not available from SSRN.

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