Drawing the Line in BiH: The Advocacy of Hatred Constituting Incitement to Hostility, Discrimination, and Violence

The terms “hate crime” and “hate speech” are often used interchangeably, despite that they are distinct concepts requiring different responses from States. 

Themes: Judiciary and Access to JusticeHuman Rights
Andrew Smith


Each of the Criminal Codes in Bosnia and Herzegovina prohibits incitement of “hatred, discord, or hostility”, where the “incitement” is too broadly defined and not in accordance with international standards. For example, this formulation is much broader than Article 20(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in which the term “advocacy” is used to target any expression of hateful opinions or ideas aimed at compelling others to commit a proscribed action. None of the provisions in the BiH criminal codes pertaining to this crime contain the term “advocacy” or equivalent language to indicate that the communication of information or ideas must be an essential element of incitement. The consequence of such provisions in Criminal Codes in BiH is equation of different terms such as “exposing to derision”, “incitement to hate” and “hate crimes”. 
These are only some of the conclusions from Smith’s discussion paper “Drawing the line in Bosnia and Herzegovina: The advocacy of hatred constituting incitement to hostility, discrimination, and violence”. The analysis arrives at series of recommendations to reform criminal codes in BiH so that they comply international standards and at the same time ensure the protection of the right to freedom of expression. 
This publication is prepared as part of the project “Prosecuting hate: Towards adoption and implementation of EU standards and best practices in combating hate crimes in BiH”, implemented by the Association of Prosecutors of Federation BiH and Analitika, with the support of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The publication is also published in local languages as part of the edited volume “Hate Crimes: Challenges of Regulation and Prosecution in BiH”.