Institutions should effectively answer on violence against Tomkić

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) calls upon competent institutions to urgently and adequately sanction violence against citizen Igor Tomkić from Berane, and to undertake necessary actions in direction of full protection of him and his family as well as of their property.

After serious bodily injuries in the attack on Tomkić, which occurred one week ago, last night his shop was burnt in the fire. Previously, according to information available from the media, he had been mistreated by certain fellow citizens, for a long time.

Such cases of long-lasting discrimination and violence are unacceptable and require serious investigation and prosecution in order to identify the perpetrators of these crimes, but also to determine the responsibility of those who did not adequately and preventively work allowing the escalation of violence against citizen Tomkić. And, it is obvious that the work of the competent institutions was not efficient. Hence, Tomkić was, after physical attack, faced with the material vulnerability of his entire family as well. The responsible authorities must prevent such actions aimed at persecuting Tomkić’s family from the community in which they live.

It is also unacceptable that due to an ineffective investigation and action of the competent institutions, the case remains open to controversies as to whether there is ethnic intolerance or some other motive in its background. Violence is unacceptable and must be properly punished regardless the motive behind it. Especially if there are doubts that it can be a question of ethnically motivated violence that would then require the application of the provisions of the law by which hate crime is established and penalized.

Additionally, the images that followed the story of violence against Tomkić these days, i.e, the display of certain objects in Berane containing prints with elements of hate speech on national and religious grounds, glorification of war crimes and calls for reconstruction of conflicts, as well as comments on social media which minimize gravity of this attack and spread ethnic intolerance must be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted.

There is no and there can be no tolerance for the hate speech. Institutions are obliged to have fast, responsible and strong response to such cases, especially because we are witnessing this switch from words to acts, i.e. misdeeds. The lack of such response by institutions, and community as well, in relation to perpetrators of this crime, would damage the multicultural character of Montenegrin society as a whole, which must be nurtured and protected as safeguard of sustainability and improvement of human rights culture and development of democratic society.

Unfortunately, even the most recent CCE researches indicate that there is tendency of intensification of ethnic and social distance. That warns on growing potential for radicalization of society. Therefore, an effective investigation of Tomkić’s case is particularly important. Only serious reaction of the society and the state in this case can convince us that this is an isolated case and an incident, and that is why we once again urge the competent institutions to confirm this with their respective actions.

Petar Đukanović, Human Rights Programme Coordinator