TORONTO—Two white supremacists were spreading hatred when they posted highly offensive material on their websites about blacks and Jews, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled Friday.
In a landmark decision, the tribunal ordered the men, one of whom ran the web-hosting service that carried the websites, to cease their hatemongering, levied penalties totalling $13,000 and awarded the complainant $5,000.
It is believed to be the first time Canadian Internet web-hosting service has been found liable for hate messages.
Bernie Farber, the CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress was ecstatic with the decision and fines.
“It makes a huge and important statement,” said Farber. “It shows the seriousness with which the tribunal viewed this matter.”
The complaint was launched in February 2002 by Ottawa lawyer and human-rights crusader Richard Warman against Toronto resident Alexan Kulbashian, who is in his early 20s, and James Richardson, of London, Ont., who’s in his early 30s.
Warman also named the Canadian Ethnic Cleansing Team, of which the two were members, as well as Kulbashian’s web-hosting service Affordable Space.com and the defunct www.tri-cityskins.com, a website with neo-Nazi and white supremacist material.
Messages posted on the website included Holocaust jokes and songs about blacks, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and other minorities.
“The material found on the tri-cityskins.com website is likely to expose persons who are non-Christian or non-Caucasian to hatred or contempt,” the 48-page ruling states.
“Black persons and people of the Jewish faith are particularly laid open to ridicule, ill feelings or hostility, creating the right conditions for hatred or contempt against them to flourish.”
Kulbashian was ordered to pay Warman $5,000 for identifying him in a hate message.
Tribunal decision-maker Athanasios Hadjis also ordered Kulbashian and Richardson each to pay $1,000 in penalties, and fined Canadian Ethnic Cleansing Team and Affordable Space.com $3,000 each.
Warman was “ecstatic” with the decision.
“It shows human-rights laws work,” Warman said from Ottawa.
Richardson could not be reached and Kulbashian refused to comment.
However, a person who did not give his name but described himself as a “friend” of Kulbashian, an engineering student, said, “it doesn’t matter, we’ll see when asked about the ruling.
“I have to read the thing, the whole thing, before we come to a decision.”
Warren Kinsella, a Toronto lawyer and author of Web of Hate, called the ruling “terrific” news in light of a 1999 decision by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission not to regulate the Internet.
“Any parent knows, any member of a minority group knows, the Internet has become a cyber-sewer,” Kinsella said in a telephone interview.
“(The ruling) says, ‘We believe we have jurisdiction over expressions of hatred over the Internet,’ and that’s a good thing.”
Farber, an expert on Internet hate, said the lawyer had done Canadians a “valuable service,” calling the websites “ugly, vile and brutal.”
“This was exactly the kind of case that should come before the Canadian Human Rights Commission,” he said.
The websites were shut down after the congress complained to Toronto police about four years ago.