Hate crime in the draft of Law on Ammendments and Addendums of the Criminal Code

Belgrade, 15.10.2012

Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM) and Gay Straight Alliance (GSA; Alliance) commend the decision of the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration to include article 54a regarding hate crime in the draft of the Law on Ammendments and Addendums of the Criminal Code (CC), available for public comment. Article 54a, which includes hate crime as an aggravating circumstance, reads as follows:
“If a criminal act is committed due to hatred based on other person’s race, religion, national or ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity, such act will be deemed by the court as an aggravating circumstance, unless it is not stipulated by this code as a feature of a criminal act.“

At the beginning of February this year YUCOM and GSA sent out the Initiative for supplementing the Law on Ammendments and Addendums of the Criminal Code to all MP group leaders from the previous assembly, the Ministry of Justice and other state institutions, as a concrete suggestion for supplementing the CC.

The purpose of that initiative was to introduce hate crime into the criminal law of the Republic of Serbia, by which the state would send a clear message that criminal acts motivated by hatred towards Serbian citizens on account of their personal characteristics, regardless of whether they belong to minority or majority groups, would not be tolerated but sanctioned more severely. As a consequence this would lead to the reduction as well as the prevention of violence, breaking the so-called spiral of violence, which would benefit all Serbian citizens.

After submitting the initiative, GSA and YUCOM worked on gathering support among institutions, politicians, other non-governmental organisations, national minority councils and international organisations, with OSCE showing the most understanding and providing significant support to this initiative.

However, the current draft of the Law on Ammendments and Addendums of the Criminal Code, presented by the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration, does not contain all initial suggestions about the basis for acts of hatred and it does not foresee article changes of the CC that stipulate the amount of penalty for individual criminal acts motivated by hatred, which was part of the initiative by YUCOM and GSA.

YUCOM and GSA will take an active part in the process of improving the draft further and will send their comments on the draft in keeping with the afore-mentioned initiative.

Furthermore, YUCOM and GSA believe that it is of the utmost importance that the changes and addendums of the CC containing the introduction of the hate crime enter parliamentary procedure as a suggestion of the Government of Serbia, and that as many MPs vote in favour of them, regardless of whether they belong to the government or the opposition.

Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights
Gay Straight Alliance

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube