Prosecution offices ordered to process hate speech more efficiently

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) welcomes the decision of acting Supreme State Prosecutor, Tatjana Begović, which refers to the written address to the Higher State Prosecutor’s Office in Podgorica and the Higher State Prosecutor’s Office in Bijelo Polje of the obligation to intensify their work and to pay special attention to the cases formed against perpetrators of criminal acts of inciting national, racial and religious hatred, and that in these procedures they urgently undertake all actions to make decisions as quickly as possible.

We remind that at the beginning of May of this year, the CCE submitted an initiative to the acting SSP Begović, requesting her to provide instructions for prosecutors in handling the criminal act of inciting national, racial and religious hatred. The initiative aims to institutionally influence the sensibilization of prosecutors regarding the dangers associated with this criminal act and to establish a practice for efficient, equable, and non-discriminatory treatment in relation to such cases.

The CCE was previously informed by the acting SSP that a binding instruction is not the most adequate mechanism, but that possible actions will be taken regarding the contribution of the Prosecutor’s Office to more effective suppression of this criminal offence.

Researches carried out by the CCE in the last period points to worrying data regarding the radicalization of society and the increase of ethnic and religious distance, which as one of its manifestations also has the growth of hate speech in the public. Almost half of the citizens (48.7%) state that we are facing radicalization in Montenegro, and even 60% of those believe that the majority of incidents, which we have witnessed publicly in society in the last two years, are dominantly motivated by religious and ethnic intolerance.

Because of all this, we are pleased with the fast action of acting SSP at the initiative of the CCE, although it is the first step in the contribution of this institution in addressing the serious problem of hate speech on various grounds. In this context, we also support the quick opening of the procedure by the Prosecutor’s Office in the case of the recent nationalist outbursts by FK Sutjeska fans in Podgorica, which CCE strongly condemned.

CCE will monitor further proceedings in this and similar cases hoping that we will witness the practice of timely and responsible proceedings in all these cases, and to protect the multicultural and civil concept of the state by stopping the wave of unsanctioned hate speech that is becoming our everyday life.

Vasilije Radulović, Programme Associate