EKRE is expecting compromise from coalition regarding hate speech law

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Mart and Martin Helme. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Riigikogu's Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) political group says it sees the danger to freedom of speech in the media service law amendment and has decided to block proceedings. The more than 230 amendment proposals submitted to the draft legislation mean that the proceedings can be stopped in the culture committee. Chairman of the committee, Aadu Must (Center) hopes that an agreement can be made with EKRE.

Deputy-chairman of the committee, MP Jaak Valge (EKRE), confirmed that it's obstruction. Even though the proposals include some formed by the interest groups, they are mainly formed by EKRE.

EKRE is against the law because, in the party's opinion, the hate speech provisions will start to limit the freedom of speech.

"It should be sure how far the law reaches. Not as it is phrased at the moment, very vaguely," Jaak Valge said.

In EKRE's view, the biggest problem with the law is the paragraph that would ban using content, which incites violence or hatred against gender, race, skin color, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or beliefs, political or other opinions, belonging to minorities, financial status, disability, sexual orientation or citizenship. Valge thinks the list is incomplete.

"There is a closed list against who and what, incitement to hatred is not allowed. As if, against others that aren't mentioned in the list, incitement to hatred is normal," Valge criticized.

Under the amended law, compliance with the requirements would be monitored by the Consumer Protection and Technical Surveillance Authority, and errors could be fined to up to €32,000 in the case of legal persons.

Postimees' editor-in-chief Mart Raudsaar says that it is not necessary to complicate matters.

"I think there is a bit of a risk of over-regulation here because it is covered by the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia, what is discrimination and what is not, and we have a European Charter, Article 21 of which covers it. We have joined this charter," Raudsaar explained.

Raudsaar also points out that the decision on the limits of freedom of expression would be left to the authorities although it should be the competence of the courts. The law will also take over the European Union Media Services Directive and Aadu Must, the head of the culture committee, points out that if we are not in a hurry, Estonia may also be threatened with a fine.

"There is also an opposition to obstruction, and that is constructiveness," Must said. "If you think EKRE doesn't have an interest in proceeding the necessary things, they have that interest. Consequently, we have to agree on something."

Valge said that the best solution would be for the coalition to offer a compromise and remove disturbing provisions from the draft legislation.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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