Table of Contents
Preliminary Report on Harassment inside the European Pirate Party
Approved May, 31st, 2021
I) Background to the report
The Council Meeting Statment & Other accusations
At the 7th Council meeting held on November 27-28, 2020, Florie (PPFR) read a message written by Oktavia to explain her absence at the meeting.
Oktavia explained that she was harassed by another member of the board during her term as chairperson of the European Pirate Party and that she did not want to be in the presence of her harasser.
Following this statement, several people mentioned the existence of harassment within the PPEU and in general in the Pirate community through different channels: PP-EU's Mattermost, Twitter, Facebook.
The CoCC call for testimony
The CoCC took it upon itself to investigate the existence of a climate of harassment within the organization in order to propose recommendations to prevent the appearance of new cases of harassment and to stop existing ones.
During its meeting on March, 3rd 2021 the Code of Conduct Council published the following call for testimony :
Investigation on harassment : official statement
“Given the repeated episodes of harassment accusations against several members and individuals, the CoCC will work on a report on that subject in order to establish guidelines to tackle the situation and prevent it from happening again.
Anybody can report harassment situations present and past, provide relevant information about how harassment is handled inside their party or other organisations.
Members are invited to share this call internally.
Please send relevant information before the 1st May.
The CoCC will publish a preliminary report on the situation before the end of May.
For practical informations (how to reach the CoCC, how the investigations will be conduct) : link to the wiki”
II) Report on the collection of complaints and testimonies
Review of the answers received
At the end of the deadline, the CoCC had received the following material 1):
- 2 individual complaints related to the same conflict (cross-complaint)
- 1 witness report related to the same conflict
- 1 report from a member party representative on the handling of harassment cases
- 1 summary from the Board
- further inquiries and comments regarding the investigation
Board involvement into the situation
The CoCC highlights the involvement of the Board in the implementation of the Code of Conduct by having appointed Mia as a liaison between the two bodies. This improved the communication between the two bodies.
III) Analysis of exchanges and reactions to the harassment situation
The first step is to define what harassment is in order to establish an identical interpretation grid for each situation.
The CoCC did not wish to establish its own definition as it did not consider itself to be sufficiently expert on the issue. Therefore, after comparing several definitions, the CoCC decided to use the one of the UN General Secretariat.
The General Secretariat of the United Nation defined harassment as :
Harassment is any improper and unwelcome conduct that might reasonably be expected or be perceived to cause offence or humiliation to another person. Harassment may take the form of words, gestures or actions which tend to annoy, alarm, abuse, demean, intimidate, belittle, humiliate or embarrass another or which create an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. Harassment normally implies a series of incidents. Disagreement on work performance or on other work-related issues is normally not considered harassment.
Considering this definition, the CoCC will look for the following three criterias in order to determine if there is harassment:
- Improper and unwelcome conduct that might reasonably be expected or be perceived to cause offence or humiliation to another person
- A series of incidents
- The issue goes beyond work performance or on other work-related issues.
Difficulties to act against someone pointed as a harasser
The CoCC is also concerned about the disparity in treatment between certain situations.
For example, CoCC members have witnessed various episodes that have raised questions about the community's ability to respond promptly to an individual who has been identified as a stalker by one person - a situation that has been confirmed by another person.
The long debates on the expulsion of a person (15 minutes before a decision was taken) when that person is clearly designated as a perpetrator of harassment by several people is of great concern to the CoCC, moreover when the person was unable or unwilling to communicate at said meeting, that was in any case streamed in real-time. Moreover, the person identified as the harasser appears to be still active in our community.
If the openness of our community to all volunteers must remain the rule, it is no less important that our members' representatives feel safe.
Absence of a referent or a moderation group that can defuse harassment situations
The CoCC regrets the absence of people officially in charge of moderation. Indeed, the main risk is that a situation of conflict between two or more people leads to harassment in the medium and long term.
It seems that today our community is not able to quickly defuse a conflict by removing (temporarily or permanently) the belligerents from discussion platforms or meetings which are one of the main vectors of conflictual exchanges.
It is also to be noted that some individuals, who also have official roles in and outside the PP-EU, act sometimes in a way that gives little clue on whether they are acting as individual persons or within the functions that their roles involve.
However, the CoCC has observed that some people are able to self-moderate and recognize that their comments are inappropriate for the community life that participation in a political party entails.
The work environment is undermined by occasional but frequent conflicts
In the current state of its investigations, the CoCC notes the existence of a conflictual climate but without it being possible to detect a climate of harassment.
These conflicts result in heated exchanges on the party's platforms, most often using strong language that prevents the exchange of constructed arguments. Accusations may also be made against certain members or Pirates without providing any evidence or filing a formal complaint.
The frequency of these conflicts is variable but it seems that they find their source among a limited number of people without it being possible today to determine if these conflicts are voluntarily provoked (trolling) or if they result from difficulties to work together or even in enmity between several people within the party. All these factors are points on which the community is called to work in connection with the CoCC.
IV) Preliminary Conclusion
The preliminary conclusion of the CoCC is that there is a general stress level in how communication is conducted between members, individuals and people representing their organizations, but that this widespread behaviour does not, as a general consideration, sum up to fulfill the definition for harassment taken as a reference by the CoCC. Although there are some individual cases that could fulfill such definition upon further analysis, according to the elements the CoCC gathered these look like isolated incidents.
Despite the CoCC conclusions on the absence of a generalized atmosphere of harassment, the stressed environment poses serious problems and requires action to prevent it from degenerating further. As witnessed by two members of the CoCC, the response adopted within the community when there are episodes of pirates made uncomfortable by the behaviour of some individuals is often slow, bureaucratic, and, in the end, ineffective.
To move forward as a community, the CoCC offers the following suggestions that should be implemented as soon as possible:
- Create clear and precise moderation rules and create a team to enforce them
- Meetings should have clear guidelines for participants, and have a person with facilitation/moderation functions (for official meetings the president/chair of the meeting can have such role)
Additional recommendations will be proposed in the final report as the situation evolves and the proposals are implemented.
The CoCC would like to remind everyone that it is first and foremost a dialogue body.
In this quality, it is responsible for:
- resolving conflicts
- studying a general or specific situation in relation to the Code of Conduct
The CoCC is not a Court of Arbitration, and cannot assume the functions of a CoA, as its scope, powers and objectives are different, as stated in the Statutes.
Our goal is to create guidelines for a more peaceful community life.