US Ambassador Hans Klemm reacted on Monday to the defamation law drafted by PSD President Liviu Dragnea, and emphasised that protecting freedom of expression is fundamental for democracy.
“With regard to the proposed legislation entitled bill promoting human dignity and tolerance of group differences United States Government policy is clear. The protection of free speech, even if offensive, is a foundational aspect of a healthy democratic society,” a press statement reads, Agerpres informs.
Hans Klemm explained that the US on the one hand condemns discrimination and hatred, but on the other hand opposes measures that limit freedom of expression. “While we condemn discrimination and hate, we also oppose laws that prohibit offensive speech at the expense of freedom of expression. As President Obama has said, “The strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech – voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry…,” Hans Klemm underscored.
The law that incriminates defamation, drafted last autumn by Liviu Dragnea, has been taken off the Lower Chamber’s order of the day last week. Thus, although it should have been debated within the Lower Chamber, the decisive Chamber, the vote has been postponed.
The members of the Lower Chamber’s Judiciary Commission and Human Rights Commission had previously adopted, with 17 votes against and 5 against, a favourable report on the law that incriminates defamation and stipulates fines of up to RON 100,000 in case the image of a person or a social group is harmed.
The law initiated by Dragnea defines social defamation as “the deed or statement that puts a person in a position of inferiority based on its belonging to a certain social group.” The law defines the social group as “a category of persons that are socially distinguishable through one or several traits that have to do with gender, age, race, religion, ethnic origin, language, cultural tradition, political membership, sexual orientation, social origin, wealth, disability, non-contagious chronic illness or HIV/AIDS infection.”
SocDem leader Dragnea defends his “defamation” law, rejects improper appellation
Social Democrat Party Chairman Liviu Dragnea defends a bill on human dignity and tolerance, widely challenged recently across the press and social media as ‘defamation law’; according to him, it was dubbed so to make it look negative.
“It’s not the ‘defamation law,’ I insist because it’s important. This appellation has been repeatedly promoted, which is not the actual name of the [draft] law, to try suggesting it’s a negative law. No; it’s a profoundly positive law, with a positive approach. All the critics, probably made in good faith by 95 percent of those who reacted to it, were generated by some provisions in the original form of the bill; they were removed by amendments I proposed, because the spirit and the goal of this law is entirely different. Attacking the politicians is permitted,” Dragnea told Romania TV on Wednesday night.
He admitted a hesitation on the amendments in the Legal Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, namely failing to upload its report on the Parliaments website a day earlier, with the amendments, and to send it to the deputies. “There’s no longer any provision that might even question the freedom of speech, not on social networks, not in the media, either. (…) I take the responsibility for the Chamber of Deputies who did not posted these modifications on its website; whoever reads them carefully will note that the concerns are no longer justified by the bill,” he stressed.
The novelty of the bill, according to Dragnea, is the promotion of human spirit and dignity through tolerance in education.
The Legal Committee issued a positive advice on the bill on Tuesday, with an amendment on fines ranging from 1,000 to 30,000 lei (1 leu = approximately 0.22 euros) for discriminations against individuals and from 2,000 to 100,000 lei for discriminations against social groups.
The Senate already passed the bill; the Chamber of Deputies has the final say on it.