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news 22 May 13

Serbian Media Urged to Shun Hate Speech

Conference hears calls for further action to prevent hate speech from spreading on the internet.

Belgrade

Vincent Degert, head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, said it was necessary to establish regulatory bodies and a legal framework to combat hate speech on the internet.

"After the adoption of a set of media laws, I expect the media to be more responsible when using and posting information on the Internet," Degert told a conference entitled "Hate speech on the internet" on Wednesday.  

A Serbian media strategy, adopted in September 2011, envisions a set of media-related laws being adopted in the coming months.

According to Degert, hate speech in the Serbian media is now "more of an incident than a practice" compared to the Nineties when the media played a key role in "raising tensions" in ex-Yugoslavia.

However, "stigmatization of certain groups, particularly all members of the Roma minority and LGBT, people is still present in Serbia," Degert added.

Peter Burkhard, head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia, said that Serbia "does not need a hammer but a scalpel" to solve the problem of hate speech on the internet.

"We should regulate the use of the internet in order to protect fundamental rights and freedoms", Burkhard said.

Adeline Hulin, of UNESCO, said it was important to adequately punish those who spread hate speech.

"The media must comply with the standards and ... a code of ethics which regulates their behaviour," Hulin said.

According to research conducted by journalism professor Dubravka Valic Nedeljkovic, hate speech on the net is more present in comments than on internet portals in Serbia.

The research showed that hate speech was widespread on the internet during the May 2012 elections.

Two months ago, Serbia formed a national committees aimed at combating hate speech on the internet.

The conference was organised by the OSCE Mission to Serbia, the European Commission, UNESCO, the South East European Network for Professionalization of the Media and the Media Center.

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