Legal Protection In Criminal Matters

The Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia (Official Gazette No 85/05, 88/05, 107/05, 72/09 and 111/09) contains a list of criminal offenses which entail protection in cases of discrimination and violation of the equality principle. These criminal offenses are the following:

Criminal Offences against Freedoms and Rights of Man and Citizen

Violation of Equality (Article 128)

(1) Whoever denies or restricts the right of man and citizen guaranteed by the Constitution, laws or other legislation or general acts or ratified international treaties on grounds of nationality or ethnicity, race or religion or due to absence of such affiliation or difference in political or other conviction, sex, language, education, social status, social origin, property or other personal characteristic, or pursuant to such difference grants another privileges or benefits, shall be punished with imprisonment up to three years.

(2) If the act specified in paragraph 1 of this Article is committed by an official in discharge of duty, such person shall be punished with imprisonment of three months to five years.

Violation of the Right to Use a Language or Alphabet (Article 129)

Whoever contrary to the regulations governing the use of language and alphabet of peoples or members of national and ethnic groups living in Serbia denies or restricts to citizens the use of their mother tongue or alphabet when exercising their rights or addressing authorities or organizations, shall be punished with fine or imprisonment up to one year.

Violation of the Right to Expression of National or Ethnic Affiliation (Article 130)

(1) Whoever prevents another to express his national or ethnic affiliation or culture, shall be punished with fine or imprisonment up to one year.

(2) The penalty specified in paragraph 1 of this Article shall be applied also to whoever coerces another to declare his national or ethnic affiliation.

(3) If the act specified in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article are committed by an official in discharge of duty, such person shall be punished with imprisonment up to three years.

Violation of the Freedom of Religion and Performing Religious Service (Article 131)

(1) Whoever prevents or restricts another’s freedom of religion or practicing a religion, shall be punished with imprisonment up to one year.

(2) The penalty specified in paragraph 1 of this Article shall also be imposed on whoever prevents or hinders another in performing religious services.

(3) Whoever coerces another to express his religious conviction, shall be punished with fine or imprisonment up to one year.

(4) An official who commits the offences specified in paragraphs 1 through 3 of this Article, shall be punished with imprisonment up to three years.

Extortion of Confession (Article 136)

(1) Whoever acting in an official capacity uses force or threat or other inadmissible means or inadmissible manner with the intent to extort a confession or another statement from an accused, a witness, an expert witness or other person, shall be punished with imprisonment of three months to five years.

(2) If extortion of confession or statement is aggravated by extreme violence or if extortion of statement results in particularly serious consequences for the accused in criminal proceedings, the offender shall be punished with imprisonment from two to ten years.

Abuse and Torture (Article 137)

(1) Whoever abuses another or treats such person in humiliating and degrading manner, shall be punished with fine or imprisonment up to one year.

(2) Whoever causes anguish to another with the aim to obtain from him or another information or confession or to intimidate him or a third party or to exert pressure on such persons, or if done from motives based on any form of discrimination, shall be punished with imprisonment from six months to five years.

(3) If the offence specified in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article is committed by an official in discharge of duty, such person shall be punished for the offence in paragraph 1 by imprisonment from three months to three years, and for the offence specified in paragraph 2 of this Article by imprisonment of one to eight years.

Criminal Offences against Honor and Reputation

Ruining the Reputation on the Grounds of Race, Religion, Nationality and Similar (Article 174)

Whoever publicly ridicules an individual or a group on the grounds of race, skin color, religion, nationality, ethnicity or another personal characteristic, shall be punished with fine or imprisonment up to one year.

Criminal Offences against the Constitutional Order and Security of the Republic of Serbia

Instigating National, Racial and Religious Hatred and Intolerance (Article 317)

(1) Whoever instigates or exacerbates national, racial or religious hatred or intolerance among the peoples and ethnic communities living in Serbia, shall be punished by imprisonment of six months to five years.

(2) If the offence specified in paragraph 1 of this Article is committed by coercion, maltreatment, compromising security, exposure to derision of national, ethnic or religious symbols, damage to other persons, goods, desecration of monuments, memorials or graves, the offender shall be punished by imprisonment of one to eight years.

(3) Whoever commits the offence specified in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article by abuse of position or authority, or if these offences result in riots, violence or other grave consequences to co-existence of peoples, national minorities or ethnic groups living in Serbia, shall be punished for the offence specified in paragraph 1 of this Article by imprisonment of one to eight years, and for the offence specified in paragraph 2 of this Article by imprisonment of two to ten years.

Criminal Offences against Public Peace and Order

Violent Behavior at Sports Events and Public Events (Article 344а)

(1) Whoever physically attacks or uses physical force in interaction with participants in sports events or public events; commits an act of violence or damages property of higher value when arriving at or leaving from sports events or public events; brings into a sports venue items, pyrotechnic material or other explosive, inflammable or hazardous substances that may cause physical injuries or jeopardize the health of participants in sports events or public events, or throws the aforementioned items to the sports field, the spectator area, or at the participants in the public event; gains unauthorized access to the sports field or the part of the spectator area where fans of the rival team are seated with the aim to incite violence; causes damage to the sports venue, its equipment, devices and infrastructure; behaves or shout slogans at a sports event or public meeting in a way that incites national, religious or other hate or intolerance on the basis of a discrimination ground, resulting in violence or physical clash among the participants, shall be punished by imprisonment of six months to five years, as well as by fine.

(2) If the offence specified in paragraph 1 of this Article is committed by a group, the offender shall be punished by imprisonment of one to eight years.

(3) The leader of the group that perpetrated the offence specified in paragraph 1 of this Article shall be punished by imprisonment of three to twelve years.

(4) If committing the offence specified in paragraph 1 of this Article resulted in an uproar in which a person has suffered grievous bodily harm or property of higher value was damaged, the offender shall be punished by imprisonment of two to ten years.

(5) An official or a person in charge who, when organizing a sports event or a public event, does not undertake security measures with the aim to disable or prevent uproar, which consequently results in jeopardizing lives and health or a larger number of persons and property of higher value, shall be punished by imprisonment of three months to three years, as well as by fine.

(6) It is mandatory to impose the security measure of prohibition of access to certain sports events to a perpetrator of offences from paragraphs 1 to 4 of this Article.

Criminal Offences against Humanity and Other Rights Guaranteed by the International Law

Racial and Other Discrimination (Article 387)

(1) Whoever on grounds of race, color, nationality, ethnicity or other personal characteristic violates fundamental human rights and freedoms guaranteed by universally accepted rules of international law and international treaties ratified by Serbia, shall be punished by imprisonment of six months to five years.

(2) The penalty specified in paragraph 1 of this Article shall be imposed on whoever persecutes organizations or individuals due to their commitment for equality of people.

(3) Whoever propagates ideas of superiority of one race over another or propagates racial intolerance or instigates racial discrimination, shall be punished by imprisonment of three months to three years.

(4) Whoever spreads or makes publicly available in another way texts, images or other representations of ideas or theories that propagate or incite hatred, discrimination or violence against any individual or group on grounds of race, color, religion, nationality, ethnicity or other personal characteristic, shall be punished by imprisonment of three months to three years.

(5) Whoever publicly threatens to commit a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment of more than four years against any individual or group on grounds of race, color, religion, nationality, ethnicity or other personal characteristic, shall be punished by imprisonment of three months to three years.


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