B.H., M.W., H.P. and G.K. v. AUSTRIA

Application Number 12774/87

European Commission of Human Rights

The applicants belonged to the Neo-Nazi party ‘Aktion Neue Rechte.’ They were convicted under the National Prohibition Act and given conditional prison sentences. The EComHR explained that given the history of Austria and the convention, this was legitimate under Article 10(2) and read this in light with Article 17.



Theme(s): Genocide Denial (Holocaust), Totalitarianism

Date: 12 October 1989

Description of Applicant(s): Members/leaders of the Aktion Neue Rechte party.

Brief description of facts: The applicants were convicted of performing ‘activities inspired by National Socialist ideas.’ These included the preparation and promotion of pamphlets suggesting that the killing of six million Jews by the Nazis was a lie, with proposals to introduce typical Nazi songs and Nazi titles in the Aktion Neue Rechte party of which they were members/leaders. They received conditional prison sentences under the National Socialism Prohibition Act (9, 3, 18 and 12 respectively).

(Alleged) target(s) of speech: Jews

Commission’s assessment of the impugned speech:

The Commission held that given Austria’s history and the background of the Convention, the National Social Prohibition Act and the subsequent penalties imposed on the applicants were legitimate. It held that Austria’s actions fell within the framework of Article 10(2) but read all related articles in light of Article 17.

Important paragraph(s) from the judgment

The prohibition against activities involving expression of National Socialist ideas is both lawful in Austria and, in view of the historical past forming the immediate background of the Convention itself, can be justified as being necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security and territorial integrity as well as for the prevention of crime.

ECHR Article(s): Article 17

Decision: Manifestly ill-founded

Use of ‘hate speech’ by the Commission in its assessment? No