International Conference "Hate Crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina" Held in Sarajevo


Hotel Europe, Sarajevo, Bosna i Hercegovina

The conference „Hate Crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Challenges in Regulation and Prosecution“ was held in Sarajevo on June 21, 2013. The conference was organized by the Association of Prosecutors of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Analitika – Center for Social Research, with the financial support from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The conference was attended by 50 persons, including representatives of the judiciary, government authorities, civil society organizations, the OSCE Mission to BiH, academic and media community. Domestic and international experts discussed on general issues associated with the phenomenon of hate crimes in B&H, and on legal and practical challenges in prosecuting these crimes.

Following the introductory speech by Tihomir Jurko's, Deputy Chief Prosecutor of the Federal Prosecutor's Office of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a series of lectures were given, including: presentations from Velibor Lalić, PhD Candidate at Faculty of Security Studies, University of Belgrade, Andrew Smith, Legal Officer at Article 19, Matilde Fruncillo, Professor at Sarajevo School of Science and Technology, Ljiljana Filipović, Judge at the Criminal Division of the Supreme Court of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Marija Lučić Ćatić, Assistant Professor at Faculty for Criminal Justice, Criminology and Security Studies, University of Sarajevo and Carolyn Bys, an International Expert on hate crimes.

The focus of the conference was the question of establishment an appropriate legal framework for the prosecution of hate crimes in B&H and its harmonisation with international standards.  Boundaries between hate speech and crimes of inciting hatred in the context of B&H, and the manner in which the state can provide adequate prosecution of the crime of inciting hatred while protecting freedom of expression was discussed as well. In addition, the Conference addressed the sociological aspects of hate crime in the context of specificities arising from the post-conflict divided B&H society.

It was emphasized that crimes motivated by hatred not only endanger the physical safety of individuals, but may pose a significant risk to the stability of the community. In that regard, the Conference also addressed the importance of adequate civil society organizations' reaction and creation of an environment for efficient prevention of hate crimes. Finally, preliminary results of the research on key issues in prosecuting these crimes in B&H (being conducted by a team of experts from Analitika – Center for Social Research and Association of Prosecutors of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina), were presented. During this presentation,  problems such as lack of formal criteria for identifying hate as a motive for crime, frequently inadequate cooperation between the prosecutors' offices with other important actors in this field (especially the police), as well as insufficient and incomplete educational activities for prosecutors and the police, were particularly singled out.

The Conference’s main conclusion was that prosecutors and the prosecutor’s offices in BiH, with their key role in prosecuting hate crimes in B&H, need support from other actors. It is particularly important that all levels of government in B&H, civil society organizations, and international organizations make further efforts towards the improvement and adequate implementation of the legal framework, effective monitoring and keeping record of these crimes, as well as formulating appropriate policies for their prevention.

This conference is a result of cooperation between Analitika – Center for Social Research, and the Association of Prosecutors of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of the project “Prosecuting Hate: Towards Adoption and Implementation of EU Standards and Best Practices in Combating Hate Crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.” The goal of the project is to create preconditions for a strong partnership of all key actors in combating hate crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as to provide a platform for long-term education, learning, awareness-raising and activism in this field in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Themes: Pravosuđe i pristup pravdiLjudska prava
Programmes: Javno pravo