Belgium / Tribunal of First Instance of Brussels




Belgium / Tribunal of First Instance of Brussels

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Decision/ruling/judgment date

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Incident(s) concerned/related

Incitement to violence or hatred

Related Bias motivation


Groups affected

Third country nationals

Court/Body type

National Court


Tribunal of First Instance of Brussels (Tribunal de première instance de Bruxelles)

Key facts of the case

In 2016, the Tribunal of Brussels convicted a person for incitement to hatred and violence based on the victim's nationality. The accused had posted public messages on Facebook containing racist insults towards the Turkish victim and her son and calling for her murder. The Tribunal considered that mere insults do not constitute incitement to hatred; however, in this case, the call for murder demonstrated there was an intent to incite violence.

Main reasoning/argumentation

The Tribunal said that asking why a person is still in Belgium, is merely an insult; it does not constitute incitement to hatred, violence or discrimination.
Considering that nationality is a protected ground and that asking why a person has not yet been put down, is likely to incite others to be violent towards that person, the accused was found to have had the intention to incite readers to violence and hatred towards the plaintiff and her son.

Is the case related to the application of the Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia, the Racial Equality Directive?

Key issues (concepts, interpretations) clarified by the case

Incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence requires that the author encourages, exhorts or instigates others to adopt a different behaviour towards the victim and with the intention to incite to discrimination, hatred or violence. Without such intention, it would fall under freedom of expression.
By posting a message on Facebook asking how has someone not yet been killed, the author shows that he considers that the person should already have been killed, showing his intention of wanting others to kill the person. There is an incitement to violence and the intention is clearly demonstrated.

Results (sanctions, outcome) and key consequences or implications of the case

The accused is given a suspended six month prison sentence.

Key quotation in original language and its unofficial translation into English with reference details

"The content of the comment itself is sufficient to consider that it is inciting others to become violent towards the plaintiff and that this was the intention of the accused."

'Le contenu même du commentaire suffit à considérer qu'il était de nature à entrainer autrui à se montrer violent à l'égard de la plaignante et que telle était bien la volonté du prévenu.'

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