Request to sanction MEP Angel Dzhambazki and MEP Mara Bizzotto for hate speech in plenary and implement the Rules of Procedure28. Mai 2021
Dear Mr. President,
During the plenary debate on Roma Equality, Inclusion and Participation of 20th May 2021, two Members of the European Parliament repeated their grave offence to Romani people of Europe. MEP Angel Dzhambazki and MEP Mara Bizzotto are the MEPs with a consistent history of hate speech in EP Plenary, targeting Romani, migrants and LGBTI communities. Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI) requested many times that the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure (RoP) are implemented and that these and other deserving MEPs are sanctioned accordingly.
As laid down in Rule 10 of the Parliament’s RoP, “the conduct of Members shall be characterised by mutual respect and shall be based on the values and principles laid down in the Treaties, and particularly in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Members shall respect Parliament’s dignity and shall not harm its reputation”. Article 4 adds that “in parliamentary debates in the Chamber, Members shall not resort to offensive language”.
During the plenary debate on Roma Equality, Inclusion and Participation from 20th May 2021, both MEPs did not respect the Rules of Procedures. They used hate speech against Romani people and harmed the reputation of the European Parliament.
MEP Dzhambazki stated:
“Rights should go along with obligations. Obligations to learn, to work, to seek work, not to commit crimes, not to steal, not to kill elderly people, not to rape elderly old women(…) there is no integration for people who do not want to be integrated”.
MEP Bizzotto engaged in othering Romani people, which is also a manifestation of racism, stating that EU funds should be used on “Italian families”, “our unemployed”, “our citizens and not Roma”, regardless the fact that many Romani people are also Italian citizens:
“Let’s stop spending taxpayers’ money on Roma and Sinti(…) this is a massive amount of money simply being wasted in Italy on the integration of Roma(…) they do not want to integrate(…) come to Italy and see how they have failed to integrate(…) ask (…) citizens who are unfortunate enough to live near Roma camps, watch television, read the papers, every day you will find massive [amount] of reports on the problems caused by the Roma(…) We have a duty to help Italian businesses and workers who are struggling under the Covid emergency, not Roma.”
Please follow their interventions here, MEP Bizzotto from 10:39:54 and MEP Dzhambazki from 10:58:25.
We assess that the language used by the MEPs in the parliamentary debate is offensive since:
- intention of the speakers was not genuine,
- the perception of the statements by the public is that the statements are racist,
- the extent to which it harms the dignity and reputation of Parliament is significant, and
- the freedom of speech of the Members concerned would not be endangered because hate speech is not free speech.
ARDI and anti-racist civil society have been working intensively since 2016 to ensure the strengthening of the Rules, but also its implementation. In particular, Rule 176 says: “In serious cases of breach of Rule 10 (2) to (9), the President shall adopt a reasoned decision imposing upon the Member concerned the appropriate penalty in accordance with this Rule”.
In your answer to our last letter from 29th November 2019 concerning hate speech in plenary, you explained your decision that the Members responsible will not be subject to the measures outlined in Rule 176 by pointing to the Rule 10 (8), which says that “the application of this Rule shall not otherwise detract from the liveliness of parliamentary debates, nor shall it undermine Members‘ freedom of speech”.
We believe that the latest examples demonstrated by the above quotes, namely calling the whole ethnic community rapist, murderers, criminals and denying their rights to citizenship of our Member States, neither contributed to liveliness of parliamentary discussions nor could their hate speech be justified by freedom of speech.
You have already, as you shared with us before, warned some MEPs, including MEP Dzhambazki, not to commit hate speech anymore.
Considering that the warning clearly had no effect, honourable President, we would like to ask you to implement the RoP and sanction MEP Dzhambazki and MEP Bizzotto. It is truly disappointing that the penalties have never been implemented following a racist hate speech in EP Plenary and that no deserving MEP has ever been sanctioned for racist hate speech in the European Parliament. It is high time to set an example and to demonstrate the relevance of the existing policies and regulations of the European Parliament.
Racism is a direct violation of the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. In addition, in light of the urgency of addressing racism and racial discrimination, we believe that it is of utmost importance to start implementing Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the penalties laid down in the RoP of the European Parliament.
We would like to thank you for your genuine communication and consideration of our concerns. We are at your disposal for any questions and further discussions, and we look forward to hearing from you.
Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup Bureau
Romeo Franz, Co-President, ARDI
Evin Incir, Co-President, ARDI
Pierrette Herzberger Fofana, Co-President, ARDI
Cornelia Ernst, Co-President, ARDI
Samira Rafaela, Co-President, ARDI
Hilde Vautmans, Vice-President, ARDI
Peter Pollak, Vice-President, ARDI
Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup Members
Diana Riba i Giner, MEP, The Greens / European Free Alliance
Dietmar Koster, MEP, The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Mounir Satouri, MEP, The Greens / European Free Alliance
Hannah Neumann, MEP, The Greens / European Free Alliance
Salima Yenbou, MEP, The Greens / European Free Alliance
Anna Cavazzini, MEP, The Greens / European Free Alliance
Maria Walsh, MEP, The European People’s Party
Abir Al-Sahlani, MEP, Renew Europe Group
Anna Donath, MEP, Renew Europe Group
Milan Brglez, MEP, The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Rasmus Andresen, MEP, The Greens / European Free Alliance
Lukasz Kohut, MEP, The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
 The assessment criteria are stated in the EP RoP.