What is situation like in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
On 14th of November the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) on its Hate Crime Reporting website released its data for 2013.
Launched in September, this website was created to improve access to the information which ODIHR collects on hate crimes for OSCE participating States, civil society, the media and the public in general. Along with providing the data included in previous annual reports, the website allows users to search for data by country. Unfortunately this data show that people continue to be targeted by hate crimes across the region. Civil society plays a crucial role in hate crime reporting by complementing and contextualizing official figures and, sometimes, revealing gaps in official reporting. ODIHR work closely with civil society, as well as with international organizations, to help in improvement hate crime reporting.
The data for 2013 include information submitted by 36 participating States, as well as incidents reported by international organizations and civil society, covering a total of 45 states.
Data show that in the last four years there is a growing number of hate crimes in all countries of the region. In Bosnia and Herzegovina there were 350 hate crimes reported by police in last year, much more than in Serbia (64) and Croatia (35). In last year number of prosecuted hate crimes in BiH was 77, and sentenced one 88. OSCE mission in BiH reported 71 hate crime incidents of racism and xenophobia, 21 hate crimes towards members and property of religious communities, one case of threats against an LGBT activist, as well as two incidents of serious assault of a gay man by a group of people.
Two NGO organizations contributed to hate crime report for BiH for 2013. Information reported by the Interreligious Council show that in the last year there were 30 hate crimes towards members and property of religious communities.
Sarajevo Open Centre is the other organization that contributed in hate crime report for BiH. SOC reported information about hate crimes towards LGBT people. According to those information in last year there were four physical assaults, including one resulting in serious injuries and three carried out by groups, one armed robbery, five threats, and one incident of graffiti.
Hate crime is defined explicitly in the Criminal Code of Republika Srpska. There are specific penalties for this crime. Hate crime is incorporated in Criminal Code of Brčko district, which defines bias motivation as an aggravating circumstance in sentencing. Both of these criminal codes have defined qualifying forms of criminal acts in cases of bias motivation. Unfortunately, in Criminal Code of the Federation of BiH hate crime is not regulated in any similar way. That is the reason why Sarajevo Open Centre as a part of the Coalition for combat against hate speech and hate crime will continue its work on advocacy for inclusion of hate crime in the Criminal Code of the Federation of BiH in order to contribute future hate crime reports.