SKOPJE, 22 May 2012 – Sharing best practices on how to better handle hate crime and hate speech cases is the aim of an OSCE-supported regional conference that started in Skopje today.
The regional conference is a joint initiative of OSCE field operations in the region, organized by the OSCE Mission to Skopje and the Foreign Ministry. The conference participants will share knowledge regarding obstacles and challenges in dealing effectively with hate crimes and hate speech, as well as lessons learned, good practices and best models applied in the region.
“Hate crimes and hate speech affect community cohesion and social stability, as they are manifestations of intolerance which have a deep impact not only on the immediate victim but also on the group the victim identifies him or herself with,” said Ambassador Ralf Breth, the Head of OSCE Mission to Skopje.
”Criminal acts committed with a bias motive, as well as all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify racial or other forms of hatred based on intolerance, directly contradict the values of contemporary democracies and represent an attack on the core meaning of peaceful co-existence. It is the responsibility of governments to provide adequate response to these cases, and we at the OSCE are there to support these endeavors.”
Zoran Petrov, the Deputy Foreign Minister who took part in the conference, added: “Crimes motivated by hatred and consequences of the hate speech have long preoccupied both national authorities and the international community, including international and regional organizations, such as the OSCE. All stakeholders are making huge efforts at international, regional and national level to determine the reasons for this negative phenomenon and to identify ways to eliminate it.”
“To prevent hate crimes and deal with them more effectively, in 2009 the country adopted amendments to the Criminal Code, which introduced new aggravated circumstances if the offense was motivated by hatred. The process of harmonization of our criminal law in respect of hate crime will continue to align with the EU legislation and other international standards.”
The conclusions of the conference will serve as guiding principles for further actions to be undertaken by all participants in their efforts to tackle hate crimes and hate speech in the context of domestic legislation and judicial practice.