The civil society organisation The World of NGOs in Austria will be awarded with a small EU-fund in the frame of the programme “Europe for Citizens” to implement a project against hate speech and fake news. “The aim of the project is to provide volunteers and their organisations in Europe, who work with vulnerable groups like refugees, asylum seekers or migrants, with knowledge how to cope with harassment and intimidation, while maintaining a democratic environment and respecting the freedom of speech”, says Hannes Meissner (pictured), senior researcher and board member of the coordinating organisation.
Freedom of expression is a basic universal human right and central to democracies. It both protects and contains communication rights. At the same time, the European understanding of this freedom is connected to accountability, there are duties and responsibilities. These norms should be understood as desirable part of European culture and heritage. However, they are increasingly getting under pressure. Hate speech and intimidation are major challenges in offline and online communication. But restricting the freedom of expression to counteract is highly problematic from a legal and democratic point of view. Uniting NGOs from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania, the upcoming project “Freedom of Expression – FreeEX” will develop effective democratic counterstrategies, inviting interested organisations and individuals to join the debates and events (www.ngo.at). Keep connected!
Photo credit to HANNES MEISSNER
Christiana Weidel, The World of NGOs