Wilders found guilty of insulting a group and incitement to discrimination

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Den Haag, 09 december 2016

The District Court of The Hague found Geert Wilders, chairman of the Dutch political 'Party for Freedom' (PVV), guilty of insulting of a group and incitement to discrimination on account of his statements of 19 March 2014 concerning ‘less Moroccans’.

The concept of ‘race’ in the sense of the Dutch Criminal Code includes the term ‘Moroccans’

The legal definition of race is much broader than its common definition in everyday language and scientific research. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) must be taken into account. Following that Convention, “racial discrimination” includes any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on ‘race’, ‘colour’, ‘descent’, or ‘national or ethnic origin’.

On 19 March 2014, Wilders - in a manner that was clear and explicit to everyone - identified a group of fellow citizens by referring to their common origin. He used their nationality as ethnic designation. The term that was used - ‘Moroccans’ - thus refers to the characteristics ‘descent’, ‘national origin’ and ‘ethnic origin’ as laid down in the ICERD and consequently concerns ‘race’ in the sense of the Dutch Criminal Code.

​The Moroccans as a group were insulted on 19 March 2014

On 19 March 2014, Wilders asked his audience “do you want more or less Moroccans in this city and in the Netherlands?”. In response, the audience - which was instructed beforehand - repeatedly chanted “less”. By doing so, Wilders singled out an entire group of citizens without making any distinction. This group has less rights to reside in the Netherlands. Therewith, this statement can be regarded as affecting the dignity of this group as a whole. It is insulting for the entire group.

Wilders addressed his audience and everyone he could reach through its television broadcast. He formulated his questions in an inciting and rousing manner, which resulted in the clear and strong conclusion that was broadcasted directly into living rooms across the Netherlands. The fact that Wilders subsequently stated that he did not refer to all Moroccans does not make the message less insulting. That message already came through loud and clear. It did not contribute to any public debate.

Wilders cannot rely on the freedom of speech as laid down in article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). In this case, that Convention allows the freedom of speech to be restricted.

​Wilders also incited to discrimination on 19 March 2014

The statements of 19 March 2014 made a distinction between the Moroccan population and other population groups in the Netherlands. Amongst others, the inflammatory character of the way in which the statements were made have incited others to discriminate people of Moroccan origin.

Acquittal

There was insufficient evidence that the statement of 12 March 2014 amounts to the insult of a group and incitement to hatred and discrimination. That statement seems to be made spontaneously and less thought through than the statement of 19 March 2014.

As the Chamber found insufficient evidence for incitement to hatred on 19 March 2014, Wilders was also acquitted on that count.

Wilders found guilty without imposition of punishment

In this case, the most important question is whether Wilders has crossed a line. This judgment has answered that question. Therewith, the Chamber finds that justice has been done. Consequently, no punishment is imposed.

The civil parties will not be granted compensation

The civil parties - either as an individual person or a group of people - have not suffered injury as a direct result of the statements. Wilders did not address them personally or specifically. Therefore, the civil parties will be declared inadmissible.

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