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News 17 Oct 12

Serbia Adds Hate Crime to Criminal Code

NGOs welcome government move to include hate crime in draft amendments to criminal code, but regret lack of penalties.

Danilo Lucic
BIRN
Belgrade

Serbia's Ministry of Justice has decided to incorporate hate crime into draft amendments to the criminal code.

That draft says that if a criminal act is based on hatred for another person’s race, religion, national or ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity, the court should take it as an aggravating circumstance.

However, hate crime as an individual crime is not listed. The draft amendments also do not stipulate different penalties for crimes committed from hate.

“The fact that hate crime is included is a success that we welcome. However, the fact that a crime is a hate crime is not further developed," Milan Antonijevic, from the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, YUCOM, an NGO, said.

“Our aim was that the draft amendments should include a range of penalties for each crime when the fact that a crime is committed from hatred is taken as an aggravating circumstance,” he added.

In February, YUCOM and the Gay Straight Alliance, GSA, an NGO, sent out recommendations for draft amendments to the criminal code to all MPs' group leaders from the previous parliament, the Ministry of Justice and other state institutions.

Boban Stojanovic, from Belgrade’s Pride Parade, also welcomed the fact that the criminal code will in future recognise hate crime, but says that some groups have been left out.

“The Ministry of Justice should include other bases for hate crime, such as invalidity, education, social status, age or other personal characteristics, which are specifically mentioned in anti-discrimination law,” Stojanovic said.

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