UNHRC to debate link between COVID-19 and neo-Nazism

The COVID-19 outbreak has been used to disseminate racism, xenophobia and antisemitism.

Neo Nazi 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Neo Nazi 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)

The UN Human Rights Council is set to debate the connection between corona and neo-Nazism at its 48th session on Monday in Geneva, with a number of states warning that hate speech is on the rise.

“Historically, times of crisis had created fertile ground for extremism and radicalization,” Israel said in its submission to a report on the glorification of Nazism that will be read out at the start of the meeting. “The COVID-19 outbreak” has “been used to disseminate racism, xenophobia and antisemitism.”

Data indicates that extremist groups across the ideological spectrum capitalized “on the uncertainty created by the pandemic to scapegoat specific groups,” Israel stated.

The “rampant spread of fake news, misinformation and hate speech surrounding the novel coronavirus constituted unequivocal demonstration of the imperative need to confront online hate speech,” Israel said.

It warned that there was the potential for a surge in hate crimes, noting in particular that “alternative social media platforms had become a haven for white nationalists and neo-Nazis.”

 Deputy Minister, Alvin Botes delivers a National Statement at the Annual High Level Panel on Human Rights Mainstreaming under the theme “Thirty years of implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: challenges and opportunities”, at the UNHRC, Geneva. (credit: FLICKR) Deputy Minister, Alvin Botes delivers a National Statement at the Annual High Level Panel on Human Rights Mainstreaming under the theme “Thirty years of implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: challenges and opportunities”, at the UNHRC, Geneva. (credit: FLICKR)

Information collected by the Antisemitism Cyber Monitoring System has shown that the amount of content “glorifying Nazi ideology, denying or distorting the Holocaust, and calling for violence against Jews” seemed significantly higher on social alternative platforms, said Israel.

It was one of 30 countries that submitted material to the UNHRC for inclusion in the report by E. Tendayi Achiume. He is the council’s special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

Germany said that the pandemic had further radicalized extremist groups, which “made use of the general uncertainty and doubts to disseminate their theories, which were often antisemitic narratives, blurring the lines between their narratives and those of public protests related to the pandemic.”

In December, the country’s federal cabinet had drawn up 89 measures to halt such extremism, such as banning a number of the groups, Germany said.

This included “Combat 18 Germany, Nordadler, Wolfsbrigade 44, and Geeinte Deutsche Völker und Stämme, a Reichsbürger association,” Germany said.

Iraq explained that its issue was ISIS, not neo-Nazis.

In wrapping up her report and calling for better measures to combat the phenomenon, Achiume said that data collation was a critical component of the battle to end racism and antisemitism.

Data is vital “for monitoring racist crimes and assessing the impacts of measures taken to address such crimes.”

There was a “lack of consistent and reliable reporting on antisemitic violence and other hate incidents” in almost every country.

Better networks are needed to report such incidents of hate and violence, she said.