Hate speech in Croatia - a brief overview of the current situation

Hate speech in Croatia - a brief overview of the current situation

Hate speech is a pervasive phenomenon in all societies around the world. The countries of the European Union are particularly sensitive to it and strive to influence the prevention and spread of hate speech through legislation and education. As the youngest member of the European Union (with harmonized laws with the European Union - also in the matter of hate speech), the broad Croatian society is gradually becoming familiar with the definitions and possible forms of occurrence of hate speech and, at the same time, with the mechanisms of combating it. In this context, it is important to follow the judgments of the courts, the explanation of the judgments, as well as the public attention that the cases in these cases receive.

Regarding religiously motivated hate speech, in April of this year, a verdict was handed down at the Municipal Court, in which the television presenter was sentenced to 10 months in prison with a probationary period of two years, while the private television company was fined. According to reports from media portals, the case concerns an event from seven years ago in which, according to the court ruling, the first defendant acted in a public broadcast in such a way as to „incite a sense of hatred and intolerance towards members of the Serb national minority in Croatia, believers of the Orthodox faith in Croatia and the clergy of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Croatia...“.

Moreover, last year the Ombudsman publicly warned about the presence of certain forms of hate speech in a broader sense in the speeches of high-ranking Croatian politicians and about the fact that the level of communication in the Croatian public space is deteriorating.

Also, mutual calling out for using hate speech of different parties and social structures are frequently observed in the Croatian public sphere.

Perhaps it can be stated that the mere fact of being aware of the existence of hate speech and its manifestation is already a step forward for the Croatian society. There are various measures in force at the moment to bring this dangerous phenomenon to light by promoting tolerance and education, showing on various social platforms the ways in which hate speech can manifest itself and towards whom. Some preventative educational measures are aimed specifically at the younger population, to whom the world belongs. This certainly will not eradicate hate speech, but it will help slow the development of the same phenomenon, and perhaps eventually lead to an all-inclusive, peaceful and tolerant society.


Saša Horvat

Autor: Paweł Kiermasz
Date: 4 July 2023
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