Communication No. 37/2006

UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

The petitioner argued that the decision not to prosecute a member of the Danish People’s Party for comments made against Muslims violated, inter alia, Article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The Committee found the communication to be inadmissible ratione materiae.


Theme(s): Ethnic and Religious Hatred

Date: 8 August 2007

Description of applicant(s): Citizen

Brief description of facts:

Within the framework of discussing a bill on corporal punishment and one on the integration of migrants, Mr. Søren Krarup, member of the National Parliament for the Danish Peoples Party stated as follows; “The problem is that the country unfortunately has been flooded with Muslim so-called culture, and according to Islam it is the right of the male to beat his children and wife yellow and blue. That form of violence which they are practicing is of sadistic and brutal character. That is why we can not reintroduce the act (on corporal punishment) and that it why it is important to make them sign it.” He made some other related statements. Having read these articles in the newspaper “Politiken”, the petitioner contacted the Documentation and Advisory Centre on Racial Discrimination and asked them to file a complaint to the police on his behalf against Mr. Krarup for violation of section 266 b of the Danish Penal Code which prohibits racial statements. This was rejected. The Regional Public Prosecutor for Copenhagen agreed with the police. The petitioner argued that this is a violation of, inter alia, Article 4(a) of the ICERD.

(Alleged) target(s) of speech: Muslims/Immigrants

 The Committee’s assessment of the impugned speech:

The Committee found the application to be inadmissible as there was no singling out of a group of persons contrary to Article 1 of the ICERD.

Important paragraph(s) from the decision:

6.4 The Committee recalls its prior jurisprudence in Quereshi v. Denmark that, “a general reference to foreigners does not at present single out a group of persons, contrary to article 1 of the  Convention, on the basis of a specific race, ethnicity, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin.”  Similarly, in this particular case, it considers that the general references to Muslims, do not single out a particular group of persons, contrary to article 1 of the Convention. It, therefore, concludes that the petition falls outside the scope of the Convention and declares it inadmissible ratione materiae under article 14, paragraph 1, of the Convention.

6.5 Although the Committee considers that it is not within its competence to examine the present petition, it takes note of the offensive nature of the statements complained of and recalls that freedom of speech carries with it both duties and responsibilities. It takes the opportunity to remind the State party of its Concluding Observations, following consideration of the State party’s reports in 2002 and 2006, in which it had commented and made recommendations upon: (a) the considerable increase in reported cases of widespread harassment of people of Arab and Muslim backgrounds since 11 September 2001; (b) the increase in the number of racially motivated offences; and (c) the increase in the number of complaints of hate speech, including by politicians within the State party.9 It also encourages the State party to follow-up on its recommendations and to provide pertinent information on the above concerns in the context of the Committee’s procedure for follow-up to its concluding observations.

ICERD Article: 4

Decision: Inadmissible ratione materiae