Online hate speech is punishable with jail time, warn police

One can commit a crime by using hate speech on social media, it is against the law to incite violence, express racism or approve of a crime, Czech police wrote on its Facebook page.

"Limitless virtual freedom and anonymity have their legal framework and boundaries too. Many actions online could easily constitute a serious offense or even a crime,” the police posted on Facebook to alert its followers and other readers.

The list of a punishable wrongdoings goes on – a crime of libel, false accusation, defamation of a nation or a race, spread of a hoax, and expressed sympathy with a movement leaning towards oppression of human rights and freedoms.

Some of the above mentioned could lead to many years in prison. For example, for a false accusation online, one can be sentenced to up to eight years behind bars. Other offenses have a heightened sentence when an openly accessible computer network is used, including a libel and a violence incitement. 

Former MP Otto Chaloupka of a defunct party called Věci veřejné (Public affairs) got a half-year long parole for a hate speech targeting Roma people. Last year, a district court of Kladno sentenced a student to a hundred hours of community service for hateful comments about Roma singer Radek Banga. Most recently, a woman got a 20 ,000 CZK fine for hate speech comments on Facebook against a multi-ethnic first-grader class from Teplice.

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