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Joint action to combat racism and xenophobia


To adopt rules to combat racism and xenophobia in order to prevent the perpetrators of such offences from exploiting the fact that racist and xenophobic activities are classified differently in different states by moving from one country to another in order to escape criminal proceedings or avoid serving sentences and thus pursue their activities with impunity.


Joint action/96/443/JHA of 15 July 1996 adopted by the Council on the basis of Article K.3 of the Treaty on European Union, concerning action to combat racism and xenophobia.


In the interests of combating racism and xenophobia, each Member State must undertake, in accordance with the procedure laid down in point 4, to ensure effective judicial cooperation in respect of offences based on the following types of behaviour, and, if necessary, for the purposes of that cooperation, to take steps to see that such behaviour is punishable as a criminal offence:

  • public incitement to discrimination, violence or racial hatred in respect of a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to colour, race, religion or national or ethnic origin;
  • public condoning, for a racist or xenophobic purpose, of crimes against humanity and human rights violations;
  • public denial of the crimes defined in Article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal appended to the London Agreement of 8 April 1945 insofar as it includes behaviour which is contemptuous of, or degrading to, a group of persons defined by reference to colour, race, religion or national or ethnic origin;
  • public dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material containing expressions of racism and xenophobia;
  • participation in the activities of groups, organisations or associations, which involve discrimination, violence, or racial, ethnic or religious hatred.

In the case of investigations into, and/or proceedings against, offences based on the types of behaviour listed above, each Member State must, in accordance with point 3, improve judicial cooperation in the following areas and take appropriate measures for:

  • seizure and confiscation of tracts, pictures or other material containing expressions of racism and xenophobia intended for public dissemination, where such material is offered to the public in the territory of a Member State;
  • acknowledgement that the types of behaviour listed in point 1 should not be regarded as political offences justifying refusal to comply with requests for mutual legal assistance;
  • providing information to another Member State to enable that Member State to initiate, in accordance with its law, legal proceedings or proceedings for confiscation in cases where it appears that tracts, pictures or other material containing expressions of racism and xenophobia are being stored in a Member State for the purposes of distribution or dissemination in another Member State;
  • the establishment of contact points in the Member States which would be responsible for collecting and exchanging any information which might be useful for investigations and proceedings against offences based on the types of behaviour listed in point 1.

Nothing in this Joint Action may be interpreted as affecting any obligations which Member States may have under the international instruments listed below.

Member States must implement this Joint Action consistently with such obligations and will refer to the definitions and principles contained in such instruments when so doing:

  • the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 4 November 1950,
  • the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 28 July 1951, as amended by the New York Protocol of 31 January 1967,
  • the United Nations Convention on Genocide of 9 December 1948,
  • the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of 7 March 1966,
  • the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and Protocols I and II of 12 December 1977 to those Conventions,
  • Resolutions 827(93) and 955(94) of the United Nations Security Council,
  • Council Resolution of 23 November 1995 on the protection of witnesses in the fight against international organised crime (1), in cases of criminal proceedings for the types of behaviour listed in point 1, if witnesses have been summoned in another Member State.

Each Member State must bring forward appropriate proposals to implement this joint action for consideration by the competent authorities with a view to their adoption.

4) deadline for implementation of the legislation in the member states

5) date of entry into force (if different from the above)


6) references

Official Journal L 185 of 24.07.1996

7) follow-up work

8) implementing measures

Last updated: 27.07.2005