Hate speech on Facebook 1

Supreme Court judgment 29 January 2020, HR-2020-184-A, (case no. 19-104841STR-HRET), criminal case, appeal against judgment.

A (Counsel Laila Kjærevik) v. The Public Prosecution Authority (Counsel Kristine Herrebrøden)

Justices: Møse, Falkanger, Kallerud, Falch, Østensen Berglund

A person had written the following regarding a social commentator in a comment field in a closed Facebook group with some 20 000 members: "Bloody black offspring go back to Somalia and stay there you corrupt cockroach". The Supreme Court found that the statement was covered by section 185 of the Penal Code on hate speech. It was not disputed that the statement had been made in public. The assessment of the application of Article 100 of the Constitution, was based on the distinction between critical statements regarding a subject and statements that attack one or several persons, and it was mentioned that the latter enjoys only modest constitutional protection. In the individual assessment, the Supreme Court found it clear that the statement was directed against the aggrieved party as a person, and that the general reader would perceive it as highly degrading, with reference to skin-colour and thus ethnic origin. With regard to the sentence, it was stated that considerations of general deterrence should not be given too much emphasis, and that misuse of the freedom of expression should not be met with an exaggerated reaction. The convicted person was given a 24 days' suspended sentence and a fine of NOK 25 000, corresponding to one month's gross salary.

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