Italy to tackle online racism

Italy to tackle online racism
Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge said the government was looking into tackling racism on social networks. Photo: Thomas Angermann/Flickr
Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge said on Thursday the government is looking into new ways of tackling racism, with a focus on the online sphere.

The announcement comes just a day after a councillor was found guilty of inciting racial violence on Facebook.

"We are studying new legislative instruments to ban racial hatred, including on the Internet and social networks," Kyenge said on Twitter.

Councillor Dolores Valandro, a former member of the anti-immigration Northern League party, was found guilty of inciting sexual violence for racial motives with a Facebook post.

In June, Valandro posted a photograph of Kyenge, Italy's first black minister, with the comment, "Won't someone rape her?" The post was reportedly in response to an article about the alleged attempted rape of two Romanian girls by a Somali.

The councillor received a three-year ban from public office, a 13-month suspended sentence and a €13,000 fine. 

This is not the first incident of hate speech against Kyenge. Earlier this week the minister said that she receives daily attacks, the worst being online death threats.

The Vice President of the Italian Senate Roberto Calderoli is also being investigated for defamation after calling Kyenge an "orangutan".

At present, Italy's most important legal instrument to tackle racism and, in particular, hate violence is the "Mancino Law", according to Human RIghts Watch.

The law allows a judge to increase a sentence by up to half if the crime was motivated by discrimination, although the human rights organization said that there is little knowledge of the law and it is rarely used.

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