Government needs to toughen up on cyber-racism and anti-vilificationSource Australian Jewish News
AUSTRALIA needs tougher cyber-racism laws, standard nationwide racial vilification laws and more anti-racism education, according to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ).
ECAJ stated its views after the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) sought contributions, on behalf of the government, in respect to developing a National Anti-Racism Strategy that will be implemented over the next four years.
In a submission to the AHRC, ECAJ said there needs to be a review of the current legislation.
“There is now abundant evidence that the present remedies in Australia are inadequate and inappropriate for dealing with determined racist agitators who are not ashamed to identify themselves as racists,” the ECAJ submission said.
“The review should also assess the appropriateness of the fact that the Racial Discrimination Act fails to criminalise racial vilification.”
The submission also asked for the government to take steps to encourage and, if necessary, require internet-service providers to take reasonable steps to keep racist material off websites that they host.
“Australia currently lacks a distinct legal regime to deal with cyber-racism.”
The ECAJ noted that under the present law, even if a court or tribunal made a finding that the publication of online content was in breach of any federal or state law, the Australian Communications and Media Authority would not have the power to order the internet-service providers to take down the site.
In respect to content hosted on sites overseas, the ECAJ has encouraged the government to take a tough stance.
“The government has indicated it will introduce compulsory internet filtering to block overseas sites containing criminal content.
“However, it remains unclear as to whether this will also apply, as we believe it should, to websites promoting racially-motivated violence or racial hatred.”
Finally, the submission by the ECAJ stated that all responsible media organisations should adopt programs to train staff in complying with anti-discrimination legislation.
“Compliance programs, of course, do not operate as foolproof immunisation, but in our experience, they have worked to reduce the number of incidents of racist and vilificatory comments by electronic media organisations.”