Sweden: Elaf Ali’s Remarks on Ukrainian Refugees Incite Outrage and Accusations of Discrimination

On Swedish State Television, during the program “IFS - Invandrare för Svenskar” on the national channel SVT, journalist Elaf Ali made a controversial joke about Ukrainian women who have sought refuge in Sweden. 

Ali quipped,

“They’re blond and blue-eyed, so their presence is hardly noticeable, except maybe in the brothels.”

Source: Visegrád 24

This remark was made in the context of a segment intended for humor.

Elaf Ali’s derogatory comments about Ukrainian refugees, specifically women, on Swedish State Television raise significant legal concerns, potentially violating both European Union directives and a series of international laws and conventions dedicated to the prevention of discrimination and hate speech. These include:   1. European Union Frameworks:   • Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Article 21, which prohibits discrimination on various grounds including sex, race, and ethnic origin.   • Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), which mandates that audiovisual services must not contain incitement to violence or hatred based on race, sex, religion, or nationality.   • Council Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia, which criminalizes public incitement to violence or hatred based on race, color, religion, descent, or national or ethnic origin.   2. International Conventions:   • Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 7, advocating for equal protection against discrimination.   • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 19 (freedom of expression) and Article 20 (prohibition of hate speech and incitement to discrimination).   • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), focusing on eliminating gender-based discrimination.   • International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), obligating the elimination of racial discrimination and the promotion of understanding among all races.   Ali’s comments risk contravening these critical legal standards set to uphold dignity, equality, and non-discrimination at both European and international levels.



Germany: Defaming the Displaced - Ulrich Reitz’s Troubling Attack on Ukrainian Refugees

In a statement to the FOCUS magazine, German journalist Ulrich Reitz controversially labeled Ukrainian refugees as deserters, a term he did not apply to refugees from Syria, Libya, or various African nations. This selective use of the term by Reitz suggests a troubling disparity in the treatment of Ukrainian refugees within Germany, implying a potential prejudice or bias that may unfavorably contrast with the treatment of other refugee groups.   The remarks made by Ulrich Reitz have sparked debate over the potential infringement of various national and international legal principles, particularly those related to the equal treatment of refugees and anti-discrimination. Titles that might reflect the legal and ethical concerns raised by Reitz’s statement could include:   German Laws:   1. Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (Grundgesetz - GG): Particularly Articles 1, which ensures human dignity, and Article 3, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of nationality, among other criteria.   2. General Equal Treatment Act (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz - AGG): This act aims to prevent or eliminate discrimination on various grounds, including race or ethnic origin.   International Laws and Conventions:   1. 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol: These establish the rights of refugees and the responsibilities of nations in granting asylum, including the principle of non-discrimination.   2. European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR): Article 14 prohibits discrimination in the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in the Convention.   3. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): Article 26 ensures equality before the law and non-discrimination.   4. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): Although not a treaty itself, it sets out fundamental human rights, including non-discrimination, to be universally protected.   Reitz’s comments could be interpreted as discriminatory or prejudicial, potentially undermining the dignity and rights of Ukrainian refugees, which is protected under both German and international law. 

Austria:Affidavit of Rights Infringement of Ukrainians

On August 21, 2023, at 16:29, an article was published on the website of the Austrian media outlet eXXpress (https://exxpress.at/flucht-vor-der-front-14-000-ukrainer-im-wehrfaehigen-alter-in-oesterreich/) by the editor, which criticized the flight of male ambassadors from Ukraine and incited hostility towards Ukrainians in Austria based on national origin, urging Ukrainians to return to Ukraine and fight, and even promoting discrimination based on gender, age, and nationality.

The article cited statistics and referenced Ukrainian government officials, specifically President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Ukrainian Ambassador to Austria. The editor claimed to have received the statistics from the Austrian Ministry of the Interior, which allegedly has precise data on the age of Ukrainian refugees registered in Austria, including the number of men and their age group. The article highlighted that 25% of the refugees are men aged between 18 and 54.

Furthermore, the editor personally claimed that a significant number of Ukrainian men of conscription age have managed to avoid combat at the front, with 14,000 Ukrainian men aged between 18 and 54 registered as displaced persons in Austria. Thus, without sufficient evidence, the article accused these 14,000 Ukrainian men of committing the crime of evasion of mobilization, as defined in Article 366 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, given that the Austrian Ministry of the Interior does not have information indicating that these individuals are wanted for crimes.

The editorial stance potentially incites Austrian citizens against Ukrainian men, which could lead to unlawful actions against Ukrainians. The editor further suggested that Austrian taxpayers might be less enthusiastic about continuing to fund these young men, thereby advocating for the discrimination of men and the suspension of their funding while promoting support for women, constituting gender discrimination.

Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Rome, 4.XI.1950) prohibits discrimination. The enjoyment of rights and freedoms recognized in the Convention must be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, color, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth, or other status.

According to Article 1 of Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights (Rome, 4 November 2000), the exercise of any right set forth by law must be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, color, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth, or other status.

No one shall be discriminated against by any public authority on any ground mentioned in paragraph 1 of this Article.

The post on social media has garnered numerous comments. eXXpress is an Austrian right-wing tabloid (affiliated with the People’s Party and the Freedom Party) consisting of a news website and a television channel. The publication’s founder, Richard Schmitt, serves as the chief editor.

eXXpress claims to represent a “bourgeois-liberal digital environment for politics and business,” independent of political parties and interest groups. The online media outlet purports to advocate for the strengthening of personal freedoms, freedom of expression, and the promotion of tolerance in the spirit of humanism and enlightenment. However, it has gained popularity for inciting ethnic conflicts and unrest.

Such unlawful actions have caused irreparable harm to thousands of Ukrainians, making us feel unsafe in Austria.

Article 283 of the Criminal Code states that anyone who publicly, in a form accessible to many people, incites violence against a church or religious community or another person based on actual or perceived criteria such as race, skin color, language, religion or beliefs, nationality, origin, or national or ethnic origin, gender, disability, age, or sexual orientation, or incites hatred towards a group of persons defined by age or sexual orientation, or towards a member of such a group because of their membership in that group, or insults one of the groups mentioned in paragraph 1, or a person because of their membership in such a group with the intention of degrading the human dignity of the group members or the person in a manner suitable for offending the group or the person, intending to degrade or diminish public opinion, or approves, denies, grossly plays down the significance of, or justifies crimes within the meaning of articles 321–321f and article 321k, which have been lawfully established by a national or international court, and the act is committed against one of the groups mentioned in paragraph 1 or against a member of such a group explicitly because of their membership in that group and is committed in such a way that it can provoke violence or hatred against such a group or a member of such a group, shall be punished with imprisonment of up to two years.

For incitement to hatred, the court may impose a prison sentence of up to two years. If calls for violence or incitatation of the populace are made in the presence of a public audience (no fewer than 150 people), the punishment can be imprisonment for up to three years.

Given the foregoing, and in accordance with the provisions of the Criminal Code and Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights:

We request:

The initiation of criminal proceedings against the officials of the eXXpress media outlet in accordance with Article 283 of the Criminal Code, and measures to identify and hold accountable those responsible.

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