In Croatia, hate speech is on the rise – discriminatory, inflammable and discrediting content can be seen and heard in public and transmitted through the media – although Croatia has very good legislative framework that prohibits hate speech (or “incitement to hate”) through not just Penal Code (Article 325) but also through Anti-discrimination Act (under Article 25 on harassment). However, prohibition under the law is not enough – we are still lacking prosecution – or quality case law that could serve as prevention mechanism to the public and to the ones using hate speech. 

By the statistics given by the Hate Crimes Monitoring Group for Croatia, in 2015* there were 24 hate crimes recorded by the police, out of which in 15 cases bias motive was racism and xenophobia and by the hate crime type, most of them were criminal offenses of threats / threatening behavior. This statistic is not complete as there is huge underreporting problem, as civil society organizations point out – for example, Serb National Council, CSO that annually publishes Bulletin – a yearly dossier on hate speech and violence against Serbs, points out that in 2015 there were 189 cases of ethnically motivated violence against Serbs, number ten times higher than the one in the official statistics.

To better identify, prevent and tackle hate crime and hate speech, different parties’ knowledge and skills in this area must be enhanced. In addition to authorities, potential victims must also be better informed of the available support services, among other things.

The objective of the project AGAINST HATE is to develop the work against hate crime and hate speech. The project focuses on the development of hate crime and speech reporting, on the enhancement of the capacity of the police, prosecutors and judges to act against hate crime and hate speech. The project also aims to enhance cooperation and coordination between the different actors. The project will continue until the end of 2019.

Key messages we are promoting with AGAINST HATE activities are:

Hate crime and hate speech are violations of human rights and as such, they need to be firmly sanctioned.

Hate speech and hate crime can only be tackled through joint effort and cooperation of the whole society by preventive mechanisms such as education and awareness raising and not only by reactive ones such as legal sanctions.

Hate speech has to have alarming effect on the society as it shows the imbalance / intolerance towards (between) groups in the society. By reacting to it, we can prevent further violence (or escalation of violence) known as hate crime.

Judicial system and legislation can be utilized more effectively to combat hate speech and hate crime and provide assistance to victims.

Project coordinator: Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Finland

Project partners: Centre for Peace Studies, Human Rights House Zagreb, GONG, and Victim Support Finland