Legislator from one entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) openly insults members of the LGBT population, while the leader of another entity insults entire nations. Numerous such examples are recorded in BiH, while on the other hand, there are quite modest statistics on punishments imposed for hate speech.
Ten people were convicted in BiH in 2022 for the criminal offense of inciting national, religious and racial hatred, and two were acquitted. In the same period, prosecutor’s offices filed five indictments against nine persons for these criminal acts.
At the same time, according to the data of the Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in BiH, in the first 11 months of last year, 169 “hate incidents” were recorded, that is, violent manifestations of intolerance and prejudice that cause fear and discord in communities.
Are there judgments for hate-motivated incidents?
In 2022, the protection of human rights was not a priority of the authorities in BiH. Discrimination against minorities remains a serious problem.
”Between January and August 2022, the Sarajevo Open Center recorded eight incidents fueled by hatred against LGBTQ people, all of which were physical attacks, ” Human Rights Watch reported in its 2022 report on human rights practices and trends.
Although official data show that hate-motivated incidents are on the rise in BiH, convictions are still rare.
How to suppress hate speech and other crimes motivated by hate?
Nadina Balagic from the non-governmental organization Center for Cultural Dialogue says that this organization is dedicated to educating young people about the harmfulness of hate speech.
“The sooner we learn that freedom of speech is by no means the freedom to offend, the easier it will be for us to deal with the consequences of hate speech,” she told, Radio Slobodna Evropa reports.