Hate crime training for police officers held in January

On 26 January 2021, the Human Rights House Zagreb in cooperation with the British Embassy, the Police Directorate and Split-Dalmatia Police Department organized a one-day training for police officers on recognizing and conducting cases of hate crime. Training was held online and 32 police officers from all over Split-Dalmatia County participated. It was moderated by Tea Dabić, Human Rights and Judiciary Program Coordinator at the Human Rights House Zagreb.

The introductory speech and greetings were given by the British Ambassador, Mr. Andrew Stuart Dalgleish, Ivan Novosel from the Human Rights House Zagreb and Krešimir Mamić from the Police Directorate.

First lecture was given by the Deputy County State’s Attorney of the County State’s Attorney in Zagreb, Natali Novak Koštić, who presented on the topic: Criminal legal aspects of hate crimes in Croatia with reference to the challenges in practice. Novak Koštić presented the legal framework of hate crimes, the importance of properly determining the motive with emphasis on the fact that personal hatred is not necessarily a constitutive element of the criminal offense. She also emphasized that a model of discriminatory selection is present in hate crime cases – the victim is chosen because of his or her personal characteristics while the perpetrator’s misconception is not legally relevant. Additionally, Novak Koštić acquainted the participants with practical examples and pointed out the importance of effective criminal investigation in order to collect all the facts and evidence of a specific case. 

The Head of Terrorism Service within the Police Directorate of the Ministry of Interior, Krešimir Mamić, presented on the topic: Specifics of criminal investigations of hate crimes. Mamić emphasized the importance of properly recognizing hate crimes in order to prevent the spread of hatred, not only towards an individual, but also towards the group with which that individual identifies. He analyzed general and specific indicators that may indicate hate crime and emphasized them as necessary in criminal investigation. In addition, Mamić stressed the need for police cooperation with experts from religious organizations, civil society organizations and other minority groups.

Marko Jurčić from Zagreb Pride presented on the topic: Recognizing the special needs of the victim – the specifics of hate crimes against LGBTIQ persons, introduction to terminology. Jurčić stressed the importance of using correct terminology in order to establish dialogue and trust with the victims and thus show respect for the person’s identity. He introduced the expressions and how to ask sensitive questions concerning identity and sexual orientation. He stressed the common goals of the police and civil society organizations and the importance of mutual cooperation. Jurčić acquainted the participants with the devastating statistics determined by Zagreb Pride in 2013, according to which 73.6% of 508 respondents experienced some form of violence based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, of which 90% did not report the violence. Jurčić also pointed out the reasons for not reporting.

Lawyer Natalija Labavić from the Law Firm Bandalo & Labavić j.t.d., presented some practical examples at national and international courts in cases of hate crimes. Labavić elaborated on the case of Sabalić v. Croatia, where the European Court of Human Rights found that the Croatian authorities had not responded adequately to the homophobic attack on the applicant in 2010. Labavić drew attention to other cases pending before the ECtHR and the standards set during the investigation of hate crime cases. Labavić pointed to other examples from her practice when events were not recognized as hate crimes, although there were clear elements to suggest so. Finally, she pointed out the positive examples from Croatian practice and the importance of properly conducted investigation. 

The main common conclusions of the training are: the necessity of proper and effective investigation of motive of hatred, need for a dialogue and trust among victims, and importance of police cooperation with experts from religious organizations, civil society organizations and other minority groups in order to combat hate crimes.

At the end of the training, certificates of participation were distributed to police officers and panelists.