Forum began with some recent case studies of hate speech sanctioned by the Electronic Media Council. One of them was Marko Jurič's show „Markov trg“ broadcasted at Z1 TV. The show ended by what was estimated to be the most evident hate speech lately.
Commenting examples of presented hate speech Wolfgang Benedek, Institute for International Law at Graz University, said that in some cases there was very fine line between freedom and hate, and laws, as good as they might be, could not help.
„It is very difficult to make difference between hate speech and freedom of speech. It all depends on context. And to put it into the context is the role of regulator. Croatian laws are very good, list of criteria to define hate speech is even larger then Austrian“, he said and added that regardless of all difficulties in defining hate speech it should be taken seriously and considered to be dangerous for democracy.
Alaburić: We are mixing-up terms
Vesna Alaburić, lawyer, agrees with statement that Croatian laws have regulated well relations between hate speech and freedom of expression, but she pointed out that it should be necessary to understand recommendations and court practice in other countries. She finds that the major issue in local practice when it comes to sanctioning hate speech is mixing-up three terms: hate speech, offence and freedom of speech. „If we start comparing different kinds of speech, we will never reach the conclusion. There are three different groups of the problem: hate speech, offence and freedom of speech. For each group there are different behavior regulations and even different journalistic regulations. We mix-up topics from hate speech domain with those from offence domain. We need to specify very clearly what belongs to hate speech domain and what does not.“
Alaburić says that uncivilized speech of politicians is not hate speech, satire is not hate speech nor is it distribution of information about hate speech. „Politicians have right to certain freedom in their discourse. So do journalists. They have not only right, but obligation to disseminate information about everything, hate speech included. But there is big difference if information is disseminated in a way that promotes it or condemns it“, said Alaburić.
Maja Munivrana Vajda, Zagreb University Law School, said there was no clear consensus about definition of hate speech even at the European Court ofr Human Rights in Strasbourg. But there are many criteria that make possible to determine that „fine“ difference. “Criteria that should be taken into account when determinating hate speech are: content and nature of controversial statement, the way statement was given, form of its dissemination, influence of media that publishes it, has hate speech been repeated, has it been previously sanctioned, was there any possibility of counter-argumentation, etc. Of course, social context of giving statement is very important“, she pointed out and added that practice showed post-conflict societies are under more strict limitations.
Lukić: There is no hate speech in Croatia
Zorislav Lukić, Matica hrvatska secretary general, thinks there is no actual hate speech in Croatian society. „There should be hate for the hate speech to exist. Recent examples labeled as hate speech are very strong in vocabulary, but I do not think that any of them belong to hate speech category as hate was not proved“, Lukić said. He added: „Hate is phenomena when a person wants very evil things to happen to another person, when he/she plans or consciously makes steps to reach that goal. Statement given to media can not be labeled as hate speech. I have not seen any hate speech in modern Croatia. These examples are rather close to it, but I am convinced that this kind of discussion has not existed in Croatia and that is the main problem.“
Sanction for Z1 TV is a good case to analyze what to do in the future, said Lukić. „That was a provocation. Marko Jurič wanted to provoke a person and the person responded. That means that Jurič's motif was disclosure. Before that provocation society had no knowledge about it as much as it should. Now we all know“, said Lukić.
Vajić: Hate speech creates atmosphere that makes impossible to be possible
Nina Vajić, former judge at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, pointed out that freedom of expression constitutes one of basic requirements for social and human development. „Freedom of expression has two consequences: it is subjective right of every citizen, but at the same time it is a goal in itself and the mean of establishing democratic society“, said Vajić.
"Court practice has established certain criteria of hate speech identification to differentiate it from freedom of speech", said Vajić. „There are two basic criteria for defining it – context and intention or combination of the two. Idea behind Court decisions is to take away guarantees for rights guaranteed by the Convention to those who deny rights the Convention protects. Speech that does that will not be protected by the Convention.“
„Important thing regarding hate speech is that it may create atmosphere for certain behavior, previously not possible, become possible – that there is nothing that can not be said or done. And that is dangerous“, explained Vajić. She added that to keep silent and to ignore hate speech is dangerous too.
Forum was participated by Wolfgang Benedek, Institute for International Law and Co-operation from Graz University, Vesna Alaburić, lawyer, doc. dr. sc. Maja Munivrana Vajda, Zagreb University Law School and Zorislav Lukić, Matica hrvatska secretary general.