Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Research on hate crime and cyberhate contributes to law reforms in the UK and beyond

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Crime

Chara Bakalis, Principal Lecturer in Law at Oxford Brookes University, is contributing to reform and advisory bodies on an international scale. Her research focuses on the phenomenon of hate crime and hate speech, with a particular focus on considering the ‘victims’ of crime and cyberhate.

Chara’s expertise in this area has led her to being consulted by the Law Commission, an independent body set up by Parliament to review the law of England and Wales. More recently, her research has moved into the area of online hate. She co-edited a special issue on ‘Dangerous Speech and Images’ with Chris Lloyd which was published in Information Communications Technology Law in January of this year.  Her contribution analysed the current offences relating to cyberhate, and evaluated their effectiveness.  

Chara is currently working on an article that analyses a new German law that requires platform providers (such as Facebook and Twitter) to respond quickly to complaints about online hate, and to remove the offending material. If they do not, they can be fined up to 5 million euros. However, Chara argues that “whilst it’s a step in the right direction, the new law does not target the perpetrators. They can simply just re-offend. It also gives the platform providers huge power to decide what constitutes legitimate free speech. This is unacceptable, as it should be the legislature that makes this decision. I argue  that there should be new laws that help the police to distinguish between serious cases and less serious cases of online hate.”

In addition to her published work, Chara was recently asked to provide an expert opinion to the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) on the new German law. They plan to use her expert opinion to shape ECRI’s relationship with social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter.   She has also developed an ongoing relationship with the hate crime research team at the University of the Basque Country, and was recently invited to consult with the Basque Police on their first ever hate crime report.  

 

Chara’s staff page can be found here.