Hate speech obstructs constructive debate

Honorable Members of Parliament,

This is not the first time that the Albanian Helsinki Committee has called for avoiding hate speech in plenary sessions. AHC has reacted publicly about this issue, convinced that it would find the support of broader public opinion.

Given that hate speech recently has intensified and has turned into a disturbing phenomenon, it is not possible that it will not have a negative impact on the normal functioning of the parliament of a democratic country. This is the reason why AHC deems it appropriate to react again and appeal that the above phenomenon, which has harmful consequences, is not only not aggravated, but rather be seriously addressed by MPs of every side, the government and opposition.

AHC is aware that parliamentary debate cannot be perfect. It is understandable and acceptable that on certain issues, it will be accompanied by controversy and concrete and targeted criticism that sometimes may be excessive and harsh. However, they may not be constructive when a member of parliament assumes the role of the investigator, prosecutor or judge who launches accsuations about the commission of penal offenses, claiming to possess full and indisputable evidence, thus ignoring the obligation to file the necessary denunciations with prosecution bodies. In fact, in this manner, he/she ignores and infringes upon the constitutional principle of the presumption of innocence, sanctioned in article 30 of the Constitution.

AHC finds with regret that certain MPs, through their discussions or interventions do not hesitate to harm even the personal dignity of their colleagues and even of other persons outside the parliament.

Honorable members of parliament,

You approved the law of 1998 on the treatment of convicts and detainees and, in accordance also with international documents, you have approved at the very beginning of this law the provision that makes it obligatory to ensure human treatment of persons deprived of their liberty and respect for their dignity. Why then do you grant yourselves the right to harm the dignity of others? Through such actions, what is the message you convey to the electorate that elected you?

AHC is convinced that if there were a survey to solicit the opinion of ordinary citizens on their evaluation of the conduct of plenary sessions, especially on Thursdays, a considerable percentage would have a negative assessment. Moreover, the survey would prove that the number of persons watching plenary sessions aired by TV stations was declining. For AHC, that could be an indicator that would require reflection because, after all, the people that have chosen their representatives in the legislative body, independently from what their affiliation or party sympathies, want the members of parliament to discuss and resolve those problems that are a preoccupation for people. They deserve to live better. Hate speech and mutual accusations have nothing in common with constructive parliamentary debate. In closing, the Albanian Helsinki Committee recommends that the Assembly approve the Code of Ethics for members of parliament.

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