Commissioner for the Protection of Equality Brankica Jankovic spoke at the opening of the conference „Processing of hate crime and hate speech in Serbian legislation and the European standards“ which was organized by Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights in Belgrade. Meeting was dedicated to the national legislative framework, rights of hate crime and hate speech victims, as to the social significance of sanctioning of these crimes.
Commissioner Jankovic emphasized that Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, intensified the initiation of strategic litigations within its competencies, in order to contribute to the improvement of judicial practice in Serbia in this area, but also because it is important to be known that citizens have the right to judicial protection in such cases. She stressed that the freedom of speech must never be an excuse for discrimination.
Commissioner also stressed that the institution of Commissioner works continuously on promoting of equality principle and prohibition of discrimination and that it realized more than 700 activities in the previous year, through training, lectures, participation in expert conferences and publishing. She especially accented the significance of great cooperation in the region, as well as the connection with the European network of equality bodies, where the hate speech on social networks was recognized as the specific challenge. “Together, we can all contribute to suppressing the spreading of hate speech, by learning to recognize it, to react in timely and adequate manner and to continuously draw attention to harmfulness and danger of hate speech”, concluded Commissioner.
The conference was opened by Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria Radko Vlaykov, who stressed that Serbia has made a great progress in the area of suppression of hate speech towards members of national minorities and the improvement of their position, which is in accordance with attitudes and recommendations of European Union and its Council, currently presided by Bulgaria.
Other speakers at the conference were also Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights director Milan Antonijevic, who presented a publication about processing of hate crimes and hate speech in Serbian and European law and Dr. Zorica Mrsevic from Institute for Social Sciences, who spoke about hate speech graffiti and their negative impact on the increase of violence and fear among the members of vulnerable social groups and shaping of citizens’ attitudes.