All politicians, regardless of mutually opposing views and the heightened rhetoric that is usually present during the election campaign, have the obligation and responsibility to respect the Constitution and the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination, which prohibit hate speech, as well as offensive, harassing and humiliating behavior towards to an individual or a group based on any personal characteristic, the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, Brankica Janković, pointed out regarding the upcoming elections and emphasized that we should not forget that common life continues even after the elections are held.
The Commissioner calls on all participants in the election process to take care that their speech and behavior in public, as well as on social networks, do not contribute to raising unnecessary tensions so that the general narrative does not take on the characteristics of aggressive and ultimately unacceptable rhetoric. The phenomena we witnessed in the previous period were insults, disparagement, and threats, pasting posters with discriminatory qualifications against politicians, labeling dissenters, broadcasting disparaging videos on national TV, abuse of artificial intelligence to discredit political dissenters, and attacks on party property.
Reasoned criticism is good and desirable, and the confrontation of opinions and dialogue contributes to reaching a consensus on key issues important to our society and all citizens. Statements that further incite prejudice and deepen intolerance and stigma towards any vulnerable and marginalized group cannot be considered freedom of speech and can be particularly dangerous and harmful if they come from figures from political and public life. That is why election campaigns, among other things, are a good test of how much everyone is ready to show maturity and take personal responsibility for the spoken word in public space, especially in such sensitive current circumstances, increased tensions, and numerous crises in the world, concludes the Commissioner.