Council of Europe , European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) (2017), ECRI Report on Serbia (fifth monitoring cycle), 17 May 2017.
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Main Thematic Focus
Racism & xenophobia Hate crime Integration & inclusion
Statistics demonstrate that there is a decreasing number of hate crimes-related incidents in Serbia. The ECRI is concerned that hate crimes are underreported and that the criminal justice system fails to bring perpetrators to justice in a number of cases. The ECRI observed some legislative progress when it comes to combating hate crimes and welcomed that the Commissioner for Protection of Equality has increased capacities and resources. However, the ECRI pointed out that the Commissioner for Protection of Equality lacks the power to take up cases ex officio and that public authorities are not placed under the duty to promote equality in carrying out their functions. In addition, he ECRI found that Serbian Criminal Code is not fully in line with the General Policy Recommendation (GPR) No.7. ECRI is concerned that the incitement to hatred against groups living outside Serbia is not punishable under the Serbian Criminal Code. Even though the denial of genocide is proscribed in the Criminal Code this prohibition is too narrow and does not entail the rulings of the International Criminal Court for the Former Yugoslavia. Besides, the ECRI also found that the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination is not fully harmonized with the GPR No. 7, especially because it does not allow for facially neutral legal provisions to be challenged on the basis of indirect discrimination.
There are no comprehensive data on hate speech. The ECRI appreciates the work of the self-regulatory Press Council and the founding of the High Technology Crime Department which focuses on investigating and prosecuting hate speech on the internet. Nevertheless, there is a continuing rise in hate speech and islamophobia in Serbia especially concerning the content disseminated via internet. The fact that most postings are published anonymously impedes effective investigation. In addition, the ECRI recognized that the Press Council has only very limited powers and no enforcement mechanism when it comes to suppression of hate speech in media.
The ECRI was also informed about frequent anti-Bosniak and anti-Muslim hate speech at the sporting events whereby the genocide in Srebrenica was glorified. Serbia also faces great challenges when it comes to integration of national minorities and especially Roma many of whom do not have proper housing, education and access to employment and public services.
Methodology (Qualitative/Quantitative and exact type used, questionnaires etc)
The report is based on the analysis of a large number of national and international written sources, country visit and on the confidential dialogue with the national authorities.
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