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Hate crimes are acts of intolerance and prejudice, whereby the perpetrator intends to hurt and intimidate someone because of their race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, disability or any other protected characteristic. One of the specificities of these crimes are the consequences that they cause - a strong negative psychological impact on the victim, instilling fear in the community, creating social division and leading to escalation and violence. Previous research on hate crimes lack research on implications of hate crimes in post conflict, ethnically and religiously divided societies. The subject of this paper includes the analysis of the impact of hate crimes in BiH that are motivated by ethnic and religious hatred. The research was mainly based on the qualitative research approach, with the use of interviews, participatory observation, as well as secondary data analysis. The findings of this research indicate that hate crimes have extremely negative consequences for the personal safety of victims and their families, and extremely destabilizing effect on interethnic and religious relations. Overall, it can be concluded that hate crimes in an unstable security environment where ethnic and religious relations are troubled almost always represent a risk for the outbreak of violence. For this reason, these offenses require special treatment by the authorities of the formal social control. Keywords: hate crimes, consequences, security, ethnic and religious violence, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Conference Proceedings
Conference on Hate Crimes
in South-East Europe
Sarajevo, 8 November 2016
Title: Conference Proceedings
Conference on Hate Crimes in South-East Europe
Sarajevo, 8 November 2016
Publisher: Faculty of Criminal Justice, Criminology and Security
Studies, University of Sarajevo
Year: 2017
Address of Publisher: Zmaja od Bosne 8, 71 000 Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
• Ljiljana Filipović, PhD, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Federation of
Bosnia and Herzegovina
• Ljiljana Ivanovska Šopova, President of the Appellate Court Skopje
• Ivan Jovanović, LLM, Transitional Justice and Rule of Law Expert
• Azra Junuzović, PhD, Deputy Head of Tolerance and Non-Discrimination,
• Professor Vlado Kambovski, PhD, former President of the Macedonian
Academy for Arts and Sciences
• Professor Marija Lučić-Ćatić, PhD, Faculty of Criminal Justice, Criminology
and Security Studies, University of Sarajevo
• Miodrag Majić, PhD, Judge of the Appellate Court Belgrade
Electronic Edition:
Sarajevo, 2017
Conference Proceedings
Conference on Hate Crimes
in South-East Europe
Sarajevo, 8 November 2016
The publication Conference Proceedings: Conference on Hate Crimes in South-East
Europe, Sarajevo, 8 November 2016 is the result of the Conference on Hate Crimes
in South-East Europe organized by the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina in
cooperation with the Faculty of Criminal Justice, Criminology and Security Studies
of the University in Sarajevo and in partnership with the OSCE Presence in Albania,
OSCE Mission in Kosovo, OSCE Mission to Montenegro, OSCE Mission to Serbia,
and OSCE Mission to Skopje in November 2016. It represents a signicant example
of cooperation between the academic community and practitioners at the regional
level, the rst of this kind in the South-East Europe. We hope that the publication,
in addition to lling the gap in the literature on this topic from the regional
perspective, will trigger further discussion and reections within the academic
community and within the institutions that deal with this issue in practice. All
published papers are double-blind reviewed and classied as scientic papers.
The Proceedings are published in the original languages of the respective authors
under the title Zbornik radova: Konferencija Krivična djela počinjenja iz mržnje u
Jugoistočnoj Evropi, Sarajevo, 8. novembar/studeni 2016. We use this opportunity
to thank all those who contributed directly and indirectly to the organization and
the overall success of the Conference and to the publication of the Proceedings.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) supported the publication of
the Proceedings. Opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reect standpoints of the OSCE but
individual viewpoints and opinions of their authors expressed in the context of the Conference on
Hate Crimes in South-East Europe organized by the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina in
cooperation with the Faculty of Criminal Justice, Criminology and Security Studies of the University
in Sarajevo and in partnership with the OSCE Presence in Albania, OSCE Mission in Kosovo, OSCE
Mission to Montenegro, OSCE Mission to Serbia, and OSCE Mission to Skopje in November 2016.
Conference Proceedings: Conference on Hate Crimes in South-East Europe,
Sarajevo, 8 November 2016
Velibor Lalić1
Slađana Đurić2
Hate crimes are acts of intolerance and prejudice, whereby the perpetrator
intends to hurt and intimidate someone because of their race, ethnicity, nationality,
religion, sexual orientation, disability or any other protected characteristic. One
of the specicities of these crimes are the consequences that they cause - a strong
negative psychological impact on the victim, instilling fear in the community,
creating social division and leading to escalation and violence. Previous research on
hate crimes lack research on implications of hate crimes in post conict, ethnically
and religiously divided societies. The subject of this paper includes the analysis
of the impact of hate crimes in BiH that are motivated by ethnic and religious
hatred. The research was mainly based on the qualitative research approach,
with the use of interviews, participatory observation, as well as secondary data
analysis. The ndings of this research indicate that hate crimes have extremely
negative consequences for the personal safety of victims and their families, and
extremely destabilizing effect on interethnic and religious relations. Overall, it can
be concluded that hate crimes in an unstable security environment where ethnic and
religious relations are troubled almost always represent a risk for the outbreak of
violence. For this reason, these offenses require special treatment by the authorities
of the formal social control.
Keywords: hate crimes, consequences, security, ethnic and religious violence,
Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The subject of hate crimes has been on the agenda for more than two decades,
primarily in the sociological and criminological scientic papers. In that time,
the attempts of conceptualization of this phenomenon have been accompanied by
numerous debates regarding its key aspects. There have been intense discussions
1 Dr Velibor Lalić, European Defendology Centre, Banja Luka. E-mail:
2 Prof. dr Slađana Đurić, Faculty of Security Studies, Belgrade. E-mail:
Conference Proceedings: Conference on Hate Crimes in South-East Europe,
Sarajevo, 8 November 2016
about the motives of offenders, whether it was hatred or these crimes can also be
motivated by bias, intolerance or prejudice. (Hall, 2005). In addition, there have
been many academic discussions regarding the characteristics of victimisation,
for example, whether offenders attack their victims because they belong to a
group, regardless who the victims are as individuals. (Garland & Chakraborti,
2012). These, and many other dilemmas, take us back to the statement by Phyllis
Gerstenfeld (2004, p. xv): “hate crimes seem to be a topic of some interest to nearly
everybody, and yet few people really know much about them.”
Conceptual disparity resulted in a very diverse use of the term hate crimes.3 In
the broadest terms, in order for an act to be considered a hate crime, the perpetrator
of the crime must be motivated by hatred towards the victim because of the victim’s
afliation with a different social group. The essence of hate crimes is most often the
victimization of minorities because of their racial, national, ethnic, religious, sexual
or some other identity by the members of the majority.
Analysis of the existing related scientic papers offers an insight into a variety
of topics dealing with the basic conceptual issues on the justiability of categorizing
hate crime as a distinct type of crime (Levin & McDevitt, 1993; Green, McFalls,
& Smith, 2001; Perry, 2001; Grattet & Janness, 2001). Different dimensions of this
phenomenon have been examined, such as study of offenders (McDevitt, Levin &
Bennett., 2002; Phillips, 2009; Kielinger & Paterson, 2007) or the consequences
these crimes have on victims (Barnes & Ephross, 1994; Herek, Gillis, Cogan, &
Glunt, 1997; D’Augelli & Grossman, 2001).
Hate crimes carry a huge conict potential and thus represent a danger for the
society as a whole (Levin, 1999; Torres, 1999; Levin & Rabrenovic, 2001), which
is why the lack of research of security aspects of hate crimes is rather surprising. A
possible reason for this may be the fact that the concept of hate crime is relatively
new and is related to criminology. Within the security studies this topic is mostly
treated as national, ethnic, religious or racially motivated violence. The research
of security implications of hate motivated violence which criminologists call hate
crimes are certainly very important for a better understanding of the nature of this
phenomenon and the social context in which it occurs.
The security discourse of hate crimes requires adequate theoretical and
analytical framework. With different approaches to varying degrees by different
3 A broader presentation of all conceptual dilemmas certainly goes beyond the scope and objectives
of this paper, thus we will just reiterate here the denition of hate crime given by Barbara Perry
(Perry, 2001:10): “Hate crimes involve acts of violence and intimidation … that are usually directed
towards already stigmatized and marginalized groups. As such, it is a mechanism of power, intended
to reafrm the precarious hierarchies that characterize a given social order. It attempts to recreate
simultaneously the threatened (real or imagined) hegemony of the perpetrator’s group and the
“appropriate” subordinate identity of the victim’s group. It is a means of marking both the Self and
the Other in such a way as to re-establish the “proper” relative positions, as given and reproduced by
broader ideologies and patterns of social and political inequality.”
Conference Proceedings: Conference on Hate Crimes in South-East Europe,
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authors (Baldwin, 1997; Williams, 2012; Powell, 2008; etc.), the conceptual
analysis of security should offer answers to the following questions: a) what
is the reference object b) what are the values that are being protected v) which
security threats are we dealing with g) who are security providers, and d) which
means are used to ensure security. Thus broadly set analytical framework enables
a more comprehensive insight into security implications of hate crimes. Taking
into account the basic characteristics of hate crimes, we can say that the reference
object of security is collective identity, or the individual and social community they
belong to. Theoretically speaking, this is about societal security or the ability of the
society to preserve itself despite the changed circumstances and the new threats that
endanger its essential characteristics (Wæver, Buzan, Kelstrup & Lemaitre, 1993).
The specic nature of hate incidents and crimes lies in the fact that they have
large conict potential and that in communities with destabilized national, ethnic
or racial relations – can escalate into wide spread violence. Hate crimes undermine
the basic values of democratic society, the right to equality, safety, freedom and
cultural diversity.
Researching the security discourse of hate crimes is of special importance in
the nationally and religiously divided societies such as Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Throughout history, in addition to longer periods of peace and tolerance, Bosnia and
Herzegovina has been a scene of conict which, in addition to political reasons, have
had national and religious connotation. When examining destructive consequences
of the war (1992–1995), such as the suffering of people and destruction of property,
hatred as a subjective consequence must be taken into account (Milosavljević,
2004). In the favourable circumstances of peace, the hatred accumulated during
the war is taken out on the object symbolizing the other, antagonistic side, be it
the members of the other group, their property, or cultural values. With regards to
hate crimes in this region, generally speaking, crimes motivated by national and
religious hatred are dominant. (Lalić, 2013, Organization for Security and Co-
operation in Europe [OSCE], 2014).
Although there have been considerably fewer serious hate crimes in the last
years, it is important to remember the fact that every nationally or religiously
motivated violent act attracts great attention of the public and can signicantly
destabilize international and religious relations. It is therefore unjustied to
conclude that the absence of this type of violence means that a society is stable
and safe. According to Georg Simmel, the absence of conict within a relationship
cannot serve as an index of its underlying stability (Coser, 2007). Coser suggests
that the latent and manifested elements of relations should be equally addressed if
we want to analytically encompass its full signicance. In this context, the built-up
hatred is the latent element of the relationship, while discrimination, hate speech
and hate crimes are its manifest form. The absence of bigger conicts does not
equal the absence of feelings of hostility and antagonism.
Conference Proceedings: Conference on Hate Crimes in South-East Europe,
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The subject of hate crimes is not given adequate attention in the Western
Balkans and the decit of empirical research is evident. The subject of our analysis
refers to the security threats generated by hate crimes in a nationally and religiously
heterogeneous and post-conict country such as Bosnia and Herzegovina. The
objective of this paper is to establish the type of threats, the security challenges,
crises and risks, whether it is the case of the manifest of latent endangering of
Our research is focused on two main research questions: a) what are the
dominant manifestations of hate crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and b) what
is their impact on personal safety and the safety of communities in Bosnia and
Herzegovina, i.e. what are the consequences of these crimes.
The complexity of the concept and its insufcient theoretical foundation, the
lack of comparative research that would serve as the methodology model, and
the lack of data are the objective and restricting factors we have faced during our
This paper contains a part of the ndings of a broader research project whose
objectives were to identify the prevalence and the characteristics of hate crimes
in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to assess the adequacy of responses of the law
enforcement bodies to hate crimes. For the purpose of this paper, we analysed
segments of research materials relating to the security implications of hate crimes.
This part of research was mainly based on qualitative research approach, using
interviews (semi-structured and open), participant observation, and the secondary
data analysis.
Three groups of respondents were interviewed. Firs, using the semi-structured
format, we interviewed persons connected to some aspect of hate crime due to the
nature of their job4 (22 ministries of interior employees5, eight people employed in
judiciary bodies as judges or prosecutors, and two OSCE experts).
The second group of respondents were persons living in ethnically mixed areas,
thus having personal experience on ethnically and religiously motivated violence in
the community they live in (51 respondents). For the selection in this group we used
quota sample with the aim to encompass a balanced participation of the members of
different ethnic and religious communities, and the adequate geographical scope.
The third group of respondents comprised 17 persons who have had personal
or family experience of hate crimes as victims. They were selected according to the
4 The interviews with the rst group of respondents were held in the cities of the Federation of Bosnia
and Herzegovina (Sarajevo, Mostar, Kiseljak, and Bugojno), and in Republika Srpska (Banja Luka,
Prijedor, Doboj, Bijeljina, and Srebrenica).
5 Interviewees: high-ranking police ofcials (2), police detectives (6), police ofcers (14).
Conference Proceedings: Conference on Hate Crimes in South-East Europe,
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principle of non-random sample. We talked to them in an open format in order to
allow them to tell us there, often painful, experiences, in the least invasive manner
as possible.
With the consent of the respondents all interviews were taped and later
transcribed and encrypted for the purpose of full protection of the interviewee’s
Using the participant observation method we collected information pertaining
to the direct work of the police: the expedience and the character of their response
to incidents, and the manner of their communication with the local population,
especially the victim. The researchers had the opportunity to accompany the police
patrol to the scenes of incidents and directly observe the actions of the police and
the reactions of the victims in given events. Upon obtaining consent, the police
ofcers informed the researchers on new ethnic or religious incidents and enabled
them be present at the crime scene investigation. This way we collected information
on seven distinct cases of police interventions in suburban returnee settlements in
Banja Luka.
In addition, during periodic planned visits to the respondent communities,
we monitored events that are potential security risks (sports events, religious
events), and in separately organized eld visits we had an opportunity to collect
data regarding the level of damage to the facilities that were the targets of
attacks (religious facilities, cemeteries, property). In the planning phase and the
implementation of the part of the research which included the application of the
participation monitoring, we primarily adhered to the principle of saturation i.e.
the eld visits were planned in accordance with the quantity and the quality of the
previously gathered data.
We applied the method of secondary data analyses on the existing databases
(relevant statistic institutions and agencies), as well as the institutional documents
(laws, court archives, documentation of the Ministry of Interior, international
organisations and NGOs.
6 Apart from the two biggest cities in BiH, Sarajevo and Banja Luka, the interviews with the
respondents in the second and third group were conducted in ethnically heterogeneous communities;
in East Bosnia with mixed Serb and Bosniak population (Srebrenica, Bratunac and its surroundings,
Zvornik, Janja, and Bijeljina), the area of North-western Bosnia (Prijedor, Kozarac and surrounding
villages), then areas with Bosniak and Croat population (in Central Bosnia: Bugojno and Kiseljak, in
Herzegovina: Mostar and its surroundings), and the towns in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
with the Serb returnee population (Drvar and Bosanski Petrovac).
Conference Proceedings: Conference on Hate Crimes in South-East Europe,
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Numerous reports related to hate crimes research cite the lack of the exact
data on hate crimes as a common methodology problem (Nolan & Akiyama, 1999;
Cronin, McDevitt, Farrell, Nolan, 2007) making it difcult to conrm ndings
on prevalence and characteristics of this type of criminality. The most frequent
problems in documenting and assigning an adequate legal qualication of these
criminal offences are: the lack of capacities of the institutions in charge, the lack
of experience in recognizing bias motive or prejudice, and often ambiguous legal
denitions. Additional problem with documenting hate crimes in Bosnia and
Hercegovina results from the lack of methodology for statistical data follow up of
these crimes. Another problem is the attitude of the police, prosecutors and courts,
who do not show sufcient understanding and willingness to conduct thorough
investigations of bias motive for the commission of a criminal offence. Bias motive
is neglected because the police in the preliminary investigation do not take into
account hate crimes indicators which indicate that a criminal offence is motivated
by national, ethnic or religious hatred. Therefore, the consequences are that criminal
offences are mainly qualied as malicious mischief, bodily injuries, causing general
danger, or other criminal or minor offences.
Analysing the available data we can but sum-up the trends in the manifestation
of hate crimes in post war Bosnia and Hercegovina. Our ndings reveal that in the
rst years after the war (1992–1995), violence with national or religious motives
was frequent, and included the most serious criminal offences. Gradually, the
intensity of crimes decreased and in recent years they do not make up a signicant
component of the general criminality structure. However, as previously stated, the
number of committed crimes is not important and the statistics is not the criteria
based on which we could assess the overall social importance of the problem,
having in mind the specic consequences and social risk of this type of crimes.
In the period after the war, these crimes were mainly directed against returnees
-members of the constituent people (Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats) and to the lesser
extent against the members of minority ethnic or religious groups (Lalić, 2013;
Lalić 2014). The crimes were mainly committed in the period of intensive return of
refugees and displaced persons, as well as during religious holidays, ceremonies or
commemorations, during sports events and at the time when people from Diaspora
visit the country. The most critical period was during the massive return of refugees
and displaced persons in the rst years after the war. The majority of criminal
offences with the gravest consequences were committed in that period of time
(mainly murders, explosions, major damages of religious facilities or gravestones).
Nowadays, the most frequent offences are stoning of religious facilities
(mosques and churches) causing minor material damage, desecration of gravestones,
ghts, verbal insults and offensive grafti. There is still a tendency of hate crimes
Conference Proceedings: Conference on Hate Crimes in South-East Europe,
Sarajevo, 8 November 2016
and incidents being mainly committed during religious holidays, commemorations,
during and after football matches, as well as during political events important for
the community, such as elections or at the time of increased political tensions with
nationalistic undertones. Hate crimes are present across Bosnia and Herzegovina
and victims and perpetrators come from all three constituent peoples (Bosniaks,
Serbs and Croats). There are also attacks on the members and property of the
minority ethnic groups, such as Roma, Jews, Albanians, as well as the attacks of
the minority religious groups such as Jehovah’s witnesses and Adventist church, as
well as physical attacks on members of sexual minorities (Lalić, 2013; Lalić, 2014).
In the following section we will present the most frequent manifestations of
hate crimes in the post-war Bosnia and Hercegovina. These are as follows:
- Murders,
- Causing general danger: explosions, use of rearms, arson,
- Violent behaviour: violence in sport and about sport, violence during
o holidays, ghts
- Property damage: damaging religious facilities, gravestones, damaging
o property
- Insults and threats,
- Rape, and
- Cases with mixed, multiple motives and mistaken perception.
Lacking the exact statistical data, we will provide an estimation of the
representation of each such hate crime manifestation, while the manner of
perpetration will be illustrated through the research cases and the respondents’
3.1. Murders
Given the complexity of documenting bias motive, the lack of adequate legal
framework, unharmonized jurisprudence, and limited data access - it is obvious that
it is difcult to determine how many of the total number of murders in Bosnia and
Herzegovina was motivated by ethnic or religious hatred. In practice, these cases
were recorded as causing general danger (mainly by setting up explosive devices)
or causing serious bodily injuries with mortal consequences.
Murders are a very rare manifestation of hate crimes when compared to all
the crimes that we can consider hate crimes. Murder of a representative of another
ethnic group is always followed by public disturbance and inter-ethnic tensions.
The community whose member was murdered sees such a case exclusively as a
crime committed out of national or religious hatred.
Conference Proceedings: Conference on Hate Crimes in South-East Europe,
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Based on the analysis of research materials it can be said that murders
were mainly committed during the rst years after signing of the Dayton Peace
Agreement, at the time of a more intense return of the population to their pre-
war homes. We can justiably assume that the murders recorded at the time were
motivated by national or religious hatred.
In relation to murders with bias motive a case from Drvar (with predominant
Serb pre-war citizens), taken-over by Croat armed forces in autumn 1995, is
especially important. Serbs had left the town. Several Serb civilians who remained
in Drvar were murdered. Even after signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, the
same pattern of behaviour towards Serbs who had not left Drvar continued. One
respondent from Drvar remembers murders after signing of the Dayton Peace
The Trninić’s were murdered. They returned and, one night, they were
murdered… They came during the night, banged on the door. When they
opened the door, they were murdered… Perpetrators were never found.
Thorough investigation was never conducted. This stopped the return process
for the next two-three years… (D. A., a 56 year old returnee)
In the rst years of peace, murders were also committed in central Bosnia,
which were, according to the respondents, also motivated by ethnic hatred. These
were mainly attacks on Croat returnees and representatives of the police of Croat
ethnicity. At that time murders were also committed in Republika Srpska, especially
during the intensive return process. There was major resistance to the return process
and violence against returnees was frequent. This caused fear among the returnees,
who then left the area in search of a safer place to live, mainly moving to the areas
where their ethnic group is in majority.
One of the most severe hate crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina is
murder of three members of the Anđelić family on Christmas Eve of 2002 in the
village of Kostajnica, near Konjic. Muamer Topalović, a Bosniak perpetrator, was
convicted to 35 years of imprisonment for murder out of religious or national hatred
(Supreme Court of the Federation of Bosnia and Hercegovina, 2004). Although
murders are rarely committed at present, they are always followed by great national
tensions. Such example is the murder of a Bosniak returnee in Kozluk, Eastern
Bosnia, by a Serb, on Orthodox Easter in 2014. The murder was preceded by a
war-related argument and the victim’s rejection of Easter egg offered to him by the
perpetrator (Popović, 2014).
Conference Proceedings: Conference on Hate Crimes in South-East Europe,
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3.2. Causing General Danger
3.2.1. Explosions
According to the report of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Bosnia
and Herzegovina HCHR–BiH] (2002), setting-up and throwing explosive devices
on property was more frequent during the intensive return of population. Some of
these explosions resulted in death. In comparison with the property of returnees,
religious facilities were rarely the aim of attacks. Since this is an extreme type of
intimidation, each explosion or a gunshot brings unrest among the members of
minority communities. The use of explosive devices can often be explained by the
quantity of weapons left after the war in the hands of civilians on the one hand,
and on the other, by the opposition towards the return of population to their pre-
war places of residence. Frequent explosions, especially targeting the property and
religious facilities of minority communities led to desensitization of people towards
the victimisation. Explosions have become a regular occurrence that people got
used to. A comment of a Bosniak woman from Banja Luka illustrates this:
There were no serious inter-ethnic problems. At least I did not have any
problems. Indeed, a neighbour across the street used to swear ‘majku balijsku’
and once he threw a bomb in a yard, but everybody knew what he was like (A.
M., 46 years old returnee).
One of the methods of intimidation and creating unrest among returnees were
attacks on their religious facilities. According to the report on human rights by
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2002, the
most serious incident happened in Ključ, near Gacko, where a reconstructed mosque
was destroyed. An explosive device was set twice in the newly built mosque in
Mujkanovići, the village of Kozaruša, nearby Prijedor, and then ahead of one of the
biggest Muslim holidays, Ramadan Eid, an explosive device was set in the Medžlis
building where the local Imam lived with his spouse. The explosion damaged the
building (HCHR–BiH, 2002). There were also incidents recorded in the vicinity of
the Orthodox religious facilities.
At the time, attacks on cultural and historical monuments with the aim
to destroy the memories of important events, which are a part of the collective
historical memories of local population, were frequent. A monument is a symbol
of resistance, pride and remembering victims, therefore it has a deep social and
psychological importance and meaning for the members of a community. Violation
of those meanings represents the violation of collective memories, violation of
something which is important and valuable for that community. A respondent from
Drvar, predominantly a Partisan area in the World War II, speaks about destruction
of Partisan monuments:
They have destroyed all Partisan monuments. They have also destroyed the
central partisan monument in this area. It is still down, even today. (D. A., a
56 year old returnee)
Conference Proceedings: Conference on Hate Crimes in South-East Europe,
Sarajevo, 8 November 2016
In addition to attacks on private property, mosques and churches, there were
also explosions in facilities with social and political importance for a community,
or better said the remnants of a community trying to create better conditions for the
new life. A Bosniak respondent from Prijedor speaks about the rst days of return
and the methods of threatening and spreading fear:
There were bomb attacks. After return, we have renovated the local community
premises. They immediately threw bombs and destroyed all we have done.
And it had always been like that. No one ever died as a result… at least that I
know of. (Š. J., a 53 year old returnee).
Research analysis reveals the evident decrease of such offences in comparison
with the rst years after the war. Explosions as a form of intimidation have become
very rare.
3.2.2. Use of rearms
Firearms were also used with an aim to intimidate returnees. Lately, such
intimidation, according to the respondents, is very rare. A rather characteristic
way of intimidation, according to the respondents, was hunting late at night using
automatic ries close to the returnees’ areas.
When I returned to Bratunac, I had problems. I never slept at home. My house
was the rst one built in my local community. There was also some shooting at
the beginning; however it calmed down afterwards. There was shooting over
my house, at the hill. They used to justify it with buck hunting - at night, with
automatic ries!? I’m sure they wouldn’t have been shooting had I left the
house, however I had not, let them shoot! It lasted about a month and then it
died down. (J. B., a 57 year old returnee).
In the post-war years there were cases of shooting from rearms in the vicinity
of religious facilities. It does not happen often; however, when it does, it triggers
great disturbance of public. Some religious Orthodox facilities were target of
shooting from rearms. (Č. Đ., a 40 year old local citizen)
OSCE reports conrm the attacks on Orthodox religious facilities in Sarajevo
(OSCE–BiH, 2009). A characteristic example was an incident where a rearm was
used nearby a mosque in Vrbanja, Banja Luka. The incident created indignation
of Bosniaks and demonstrated to what extent such incidents represent potential
danger for peace, stability and coexistence in the ethnically heterogeneous areas.
One respondent witnessed the incident:
We had a case in 2006, when a vehicle stopped and a person from the vehicle
started shooting towards the mosque. Then local citizens blocked the main
road Banja Luka-Kotor Varoš. We went to the street because the police never
discovered the perpetrators of about 50 differently committed hate crimes.
Around a hundred of us or more went on the street and blocked it. It lasted
about two-three hours; we did not want to move demanding the arrest of the
perpetrator. The licence number of the vehicle used by the perpetrator was
known... (A. Č., a 28 years old returnee)
Conference Proceedings: Conference on Hate Crimes in South-East Europe,
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3.2.3. Arson
Property arson is also related to the period of intensive return of population.
In time the number of arsons decreased, happening very rarely recently. Research
analysis reveals different types of arson.
The rst type is burning down returnees’ houses in order to prevent the return
process. It happened during the intensive return period but at present very rarely.
The second type is violent reaction of temporary occupants of the displaced
persons’ property which should have been returned to their pre-war owners. Most of
them did not want to return to their pre-war areas for safety reasons, although their
property was not damaged. Such situations created a lot of tensions and triggered
incidents and violence.
The third type is burning down the returnees’ outbuildings. According to
the respondents, these were isolated, individual cases that were not organized as
systemic policy of pressure with an aim to prevent return.
The fourth type is arson and violence in public places before, during and after
public gatherings, religious holidays or ceremonies.
The fth type is cases with mixed motives or mistaken perceptions. These
are arsons where primary motives are property disputes, a cause of frequent
provocations, incidents and property damage, but where the circumstances and the
manner of perpetration indicate ethnic-based hatred.
3.3. Violent behaviour
Violent behaviour in terms of ghts or causing signicant unrest based on
ethnic or religious hatred happens occasionally, and is almost always related to
certain events, such as sporting events or other public gatherings. In addition, some
isolated cases of violent behaviour which are motivated by national, ethnic or
religious hatred have been observed. These cases are usually not connected to certain
events that can be so-called ‘triggers’ for the outbreak of violence. Violent acts have
been recorded against members of ethnic or religious minority communities (more
specically against Roma and Wahhabi), that occasionally resulted in death. In
the communities whose members belong to different ethnic backgrounds, cases of
juvenile violent behaviour are very frequent.
3.3.1. Violence in sport and motivated by sport
There are numerous examples of violence at football games and violence
caused by the upcoming games. Violence motivated by ethnic hatred happens even
in local football games and tournaments. One of the respondents tells about one
such event:
There was a football tournament in Vrbanja in 2004. It was interrupted when a
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mass ght broke out between Serbs and Bosniaks. Terrible images. The police
managed to prevent the situation from escalating. Whenever people are in
divided groups, these problems occur. This happened by accident, and alcohol
played its role as well. It was during the summer. There was a group of around
30-40 Serbs and on the other side 30-40 Muslims. The game was ongoing and
it all happened in a second – they charged at each other and a mass ght broke
out. As a consequence there were several injured, one guy’s nose was broken,
and other had light bodily injuries. (A. Č., a 28 year old returnee)
In addition to sports events played within the state borders, the games played
abroad in which Bosnia and Herzegovina does not even participate are a threat to
inter-ethnic relations if these are sports teams or national teams with which national
groups from Bosnia and Herzegovina identify in terms of culture. An example
can be a European Championships game between Turkey and Croatia played in
Vienna on 20 June 2008. This sports event caused riots and conict in Bosnia
and Herzegovina in the communities where both Bosniaks and Croats live. One
respondent from Bugojno describes these events:
One spark is sufcient. Something irrelevant, some football game, which
will stir up the passion. When it comes to Bugojno, during the European
Championships…even now when Croatia and Bosnia are playing…When
Croatia played against Turkey, half of Bugojno was wearing Turkish jerseys
and ags, and the other half Croatian. Then ghting broke out. I heard from
my at people in cafés saying: “Let’s go to Croatian cafés to beat them up”.
And the others were the same. One game, one event, something irrelevant is
sufcient for this to transpire (S. Č., a 44 years old local citizen).
3.3.2. Violence during religious ceremonies
Signicant violence during religious ceremonies is rare compared to other
incidents, and it mainly occurred immediately after the war. In the post-war period,
one characteristic event is the attempt to lay the cornerstone of Ferhat Pasha Mosque
in Banja Luka on 7 May 2001. On this occasion a large number of protesters
gathered, there were disturbances and stones were thrown on the worshipers. Several
Bosniaks were injured severely, and one person died as a result. Huge damage
was caused on the vehicles used for the transport of the worshipers and guests,
among others, members of the diplomatic corps and international organisations.
One of the chiefs of the Public Safety Centre Banja Luka describes the scope and
the consequence of this event:
This was the rst attempt of laying the cornerstone when a massive gathering
occurred, which resulted in the attack on the gathered worshipers. A riot broke
out and on this occasion one person died. I think he was hit in the head with
a stone. He died seven days later. A huge material damage was caused on the
vehicles and busses used to transport worshipers from the region (Ž. D., 48
years old, police chief).
Conference Proceedings: Conference on Hate Crimes in South-East Europe,
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This case attracted a huge public attention as an extreme example of religious
intolerance. Respondents talked about cases of violence during religious ceremonies
in the post war period (V. E., 39 years old, local citizen), but the “Ferhadija” case
is an example of the pattern of religious intolerance that happened in the critical
periods of the Bosnia and Herzegovina’s history.
3.3.3. Fights
Ethnically-motivated ghts are not rare in mixed communities. Some of
them have a concrete cause, mostly ethnic-based insults, or they happen without a
concrete cause. As an example of a ght with a cause, one respondent from Banja
Luka described the following case:
It was New Years Eve and a car with a foreign registration plates stopped.
These were people from Switzerland, Serbs, they stopped in front of a mosque
and they urinated in the graveyard. Some young men were passing by, and
asked them to leave, but they refused. After that, some people gathered and
a ght broke out. They came from Switzerland and had this desire or I don’t
know how to call it, to desecrate, to destroy, and it ended like this and they
never came back. Nobody knows them. They did not know anybody. It seems
they are originally from Kotor Varoš. It happens; it is the same in Federation
with Serb returnees. Exactly the same situation, the same things happen. (A.
Č., a 28 years old returnee)
In Central Bosnia Canton there are ghts between Bosniaks and Croats, often
without any concrete cause. One respondent comments one such a case:
A month ago a huge ght broke out. One group left a café they were in, and
went to a Croatian café to provoke a ght. This was qualied as disturbance
of public peace and order, but it is ethnic hatred. One spark is sufcient. Of
course, as time goes by, this happens less frequently (S. Č., a 44 years old local
Cases of violence among minors are very frequent in mixed communities. A
respondent from Mostar is describing cases of peer violence:
There were some cases when older juveniles, let’s say high school students,
arrange a meeting or a ght via Facebook. Boys would come to Španski trg,
since Mostar is divided to Eastern and Western part, so these boys from the
Eastern side come 200-300 meters into the Western side and nd somebody,
just anybody, beat him up and return to their side. And then, as expected, the
other side reacts, they go to the other side, beat somebody up and go back.
There were around 4-5 such cases, and they were processed, so now everything
is calmer. There is no other motive, beside ethnic hatred, (D. P., 38 years old,
criminal police inspector).
Conference Proceedings: Conference on Hate Crimes in South-East Europe,
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3.4. Property damage
Property damage is a very common way of expressing national and religious
hatred. Mostly religious facilities are at risk, as well as gravestones; houses less
frequently. Most respondents consider that breaking windows, fences and writing
grafti is mostly causing minor damage. On the other hand, they also think that the
real gravity of these incidents lies in the negative consequences reected in public
opinion, especially the communities whose facilities were damaged and whose
religious feelings were hurt. During the research it was noted that there is a decline
in these incidents compared to previous years. However, they still happen – often
during religious holidays or sports events, but also at other time as well. Attacks on
property of minority communities have a declining trend compared to the time of
intensive return of refugees and displaced persons.
3.4.1. Damaging religious facilities
In these cases mostly the windows, fences or religious symbols are damaged.
Most respondents, police ofcers, state they did not have cases which would cause
protests or serious tensions. They think in most of the cases it was not the case
of serious religious or national extremism. Most respondents from the minority
communities state that the number of these incidents is higher than reported,
although they conrm these incidents are much less frequent compared to previous
One respondent from Banja Luka, a police ofcer, said that most of the Islamic
religious facilities were destroyed during the war in the city itself. Before these
objects were renovated, there was violence against Bosniak and Croat returnees.
After the reconstruction of these facilities, this type of violence targeting religious
facilities had also started.
There are no exact records on the attacks on religious facilities, because mostly
these attacks are qualied as Malicious Mischief or they are just registered as
security event (M. Z., 54 years old, police inspector). Such practice of the police is
making it impossible to see real scope of the manifestation of such type of religious
When someone breaks a window on a religious facility or damages it, the
police are ling a report for property damage. These offences come under the
property crime, hatred as a motive is not recorded, thus in the ofcial statistics
the motive of hatred is not visible. Therefore, in practice, it is impossible to
analyse how many of these offences actually happen. (M. P., 54 years old,
police inspector)
Typical examples that occur in practice are cases of damage to Catholic
religious facilities in Banja Luka. In Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, attacks
on the Orthodox religious facilities have been recorded.
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3.4.2. Damaging gravestones
Destruction and damaging of gravestones happens often. The most frequent
motive is ethnic or religious hatred. However, in practice, there are cases when
perpetrators are motivated by greed, not hatred. then marble slabs and copper are
stolen from gravestones. It can be assumed that some perpetrators are motivated by
ethnic or religious hatred, in addition to greed. Attacks on gravestones usually cause
huge public disturbance in the communities whose gravestones are destroyed, since
a sacred object was destroyed. They see it as a manifestation of extremism and hate.
Damage to a grave causes a strong emotional reaction, and even when the motive is
evidently greed, tacitly it is assumed that the motive is hate. Media often use these
events to manipulate facts, and present it to the public as an attack on one of the
constitutive peoples, and advocate the theory that this particular peoples is under
threat. These cases occur across Bosnia and Herzegovina, and targets are graves of
all religious communities.
3.4.3. Damage to private property
Compared to the damage of religious facilities and graveyards, attacks on the
property of returnees are less frequent. This is the opinion of almost all respondents.
When it comes to the property of returnees, mostly smaller damage is caused on
housing facilities, such as broken windows or shop windows. In such cases the main
intent of the perpetrator is intimidation, but considering the manner of commission
and the implements used it is inevitable that, beside intimidation, there is always
a material damage on the business or housing facilities. This used to happen in
the time of intensive return of population. In time the frequency of these incidents
3.5. Insults and threats
Insults and threats are very frequent. Insulting grafti are written on the housing
facilities where returnees live, especially in urban areas, than on religious facilities,
schools and other public institutions and places. Targeted communities consider
grafti as a symbolic message of hate, an insult, intimidation and sometimes a
direct and real threat. Some people see these messages as a tool of pressure to leave
that community. Most of grafti are written during the night, so that perpetrators
are not identied and caught.
The respondents also talked about car processions in the returnee areas, mostly
after football games (S.S., 63, returnee; A. H., 57 years old, returnee). However,
this happens on the summer, when the people from Diaspora are visiting. These are
provocations from the moving vehicles, mostly in evenings or at night.
Conference Proceedings: Conference on Hate Crimes in South-East Europe,
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3.6. Rape
The criminal offence of rape which is motived by ethnic or religious hatred
is the rarest manifestation of hate crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Two such
cases were recorded during the analysis of the collected material. According to the
Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, in July 2008, one potential
case occurred in Brčko. The charges state that a 20 year old Bosniak woman and a
Bosniak man put a Serb woman in their car, took her to a remote road where they
stopped the vehicle, threaten her with a fake gun and took her purse. Then Bosniak
woman pointed the gun into the victims head, ordered her to take off her clothes
and then the man raped her. During the rape, he uttered ethnicity - based insults
(OSCE–BiH, 2009). The other case occurred on 11 January 2013. (Hideous crime
in Modriča: the perpetrator broke into a house and raped a 70 year old woman,
2013) in Pećnik, Vukosavlje Municipality. A Serb perpetrator committed armed
robbery and then raped a Croat woman. The District Court in Doboj sentenced the
perpetrator to seven years and six months of imprisonment.
The methodological difculties in collecting data should also be considered,
therefore, there is a possibility that there are more of these cases. However, based
on the available data, it can be said it is the rarest manifestation of hatred.
3.7. Mixed motives and wrong perceptions
During the research it was noticed that there are criminal offences and incidents
that are only partially motivated by national and religious hatred. This often happens
in cases with unresolved property issues and the sides in the conict are of different
nationalities. In these situations the case gets an ethnic or religious character
although the nature of conict is different. In addition, mistaken perceptions have
also been observed, as well as a subjective feeling of minority groups being under
threat even when criminal offences do not have an ethnic or religious motivation.
When members of minority communities or their property are attacked, they
consider it an ethnic or religious hatred and a pressure to move, although it is
obvious that these offences and incidents have different motivation. The subjective
feeling of being under threat because of their ethnic or religious afliation is very
strong. Mostly these are property crimes – thefts, breaking and entering of renewed
houses where nobody lives, or stealing brass and marble from graves. Members of
community are especially agitated if a religious facility is damaged or someone is
The complexity of social relations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and specic
way of life in multi-ethnic communities before the war suggests to what extent
some incidents are motivated by ethnic or religious hatred and to what extent by
some other reasons. On the surface most incidents and disputes seem to be the
consequence of ethnic or religious hatred. However, it often happens that at the root
of such relationship lies a conict between families living next to each other, and
it is motivated by other reasons such as ordinary disagreement or bigotry. These
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cases are very present in practice. One of the respondents, a police ofcer, says the
Somebody will say: I will do something to my neighbour because I hate him,
and I hate him because he is a Croat or a Bosniak. No, there might be a different
explanation of the relationship between those families. Maybe they were best
men and they had a ght about land or something else. And then they say the
reason is nationality. These things happen. (Ž. D., a 48 year old police chief)
These incidents are specic for the returnee areas. Neighbourhood ghts,
insults, threats and breaking windows are common. It is not rare that neighbours
took over their neighbours’ land and built on it during the war, so when the proper
owners returned, property issues occurred. Therefore, the basis of the conict is not
ethnic or religious hatred but property issues.
The situation is similar in cases when there is a property dispute related to
some religious facilities. The population of entire villages was collectively moved
during the war and after the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed. Serbs moved
collectively to Republika Srpska from the area that was allocated to the Federation
of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Displaced persons moved mostly to the Bosniak
property in Republika Srpska. They built their religious facilities there. After the
war, when returnees led property claims to get their property back, new problems
and tensions occurred. A characteristic example is the Orthodox Church built on the
private land of a Bosniak woman, Fata Orlović, in Konjević Polje, where religion-
motivated incidents were recorded several times.
Individual cases of arson are also examples of mixed motives, especially if
there are unsolved property relations, i.e. attractive locations for construction, and
the land is owned by members of minority population. There is a pressure on them
to sell houses and land. The following is one of the examples:
Molotov cocktail was thrown from a terrace through the window in 2006 in
broad daylight, at half past one. The terrace was wooden so it burst into ames.
If it was during the night, everything would burn down, since it is a one-storey
house. Now it just stands there, a ruin. Somebody put them up to it…because
there are two acres of land behind the house, good location; now popular…the
ownership of the house is disputed. Allegedly, a woman bought the house for
50.000 KM, but she bought it from my cousin, his share. We were co-owners.
(B. K., a 68 year old returnee)
Some criminal offences, incidents and events are not motivated by ethnic or
religious hatred. Lacking accurate information, the injured community sees these
events as those with ethnic or religious motivation, and, as a rule, believe that the
attackers belong to other ethnicity or religion. They believe they are a target of an
attack only because of hatred. These events are very disturbing and cause a strong
emotional reaction of the community members, so they cannot objectively perceive
the facts that eliminate elements of national or religious hatred. These are mostly
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cases of property theft, damaging of religious facilities or murders of returnees.
Upon examining the facts the ethnic or religious motivation is excluded. Regardless,
these events, or more precisely, the perception of these events, cause suspicion and
upset intern-ethnic and religious relations. Majority of cases of wrong perception
are related to the theft of returnees’ property. Protection of personal and property
safety of the returnees is one of the priorities of the police. This is a very sensitive
issue, because if the police do not manage to protect returnees and their property
– the problem acquires a political dimension. This is especially true for renovated
property where nobody lives, or lives there occasionally. Such property is often a
subject of theft. The perception of victims is that the perpetrator is exerting pressure
on them because of their ethnicity in order to sell their property and move away,
rather than a greed-driven act. Since the property is not protected, victims often
do not nd out about the offence until much later since they do not live there, so it
usually takes a long time for it to be reported to the police, without which the police
have no legal grounds to act. Such circumstances work in favour of criminal groups
who are involved in this type of crime.
When it comes to wrong perceptions, other targets of theft are churches or
mosques. These are mostly thefts where perpetrators break and enter a religious
building and steal valuable items, money or construction material. Given the
manner of perpetration, it is evident that the motive is greed. However, members
of religious communities assign great signicance to these events, and they want to
know who did it and why (LJ. B., a crime police inspector)
It is not rare that the media report on these events without establishing the
facts. Biased media with subjective information create a perception that certain
ethnicity or religion is under threat. In addition to subjective information distributed
by the media, there is a problem of rumours which lead to turmoil of the minority
communities. This indicates that inter-ethnic and religious relations are a very
sensitive issue in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
When a murder is committed in a mixed community where inter-ethnic
relations are ruined, especially when dealing with returnees, the tensions occur
and the rst perception of the community members the victim belonged to is that
the motive for the commission of the crime is the ethnic background of the victim.
Hate crimes have more serious consequences in comparison to other offences
– they have an extremely negative psychological effect on the victim, they cause
fear, social division and escalation of violence (OSCE – ODIHR, 2009). The
consequences of these criminal offences in Bosnia and Herzegovina are primarily
psychological in the form of fear provoked both in the affected individuals and
other members of the community. Then there are social consequences, manifested
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through deepening of the existing group divisions inevitably leading to ruining
inter-ethnic relations. What is especially characteristic for Bosnia and Herzegovina
is the process of demographic changes in terms of gradual emigration of minority
group members from certain areas, which leads to further ethnic homogenisation. In
addition, hate crimes are a threat to peace and stability because if the environment
is unstable in terms of security there is always a risk of the eruption of violence.
Victims are suffering psychological consequences; they feel fear, anxiety and
insecurity. Even some minor offences – such as ethnicity or religion-motivated
property damage, verbal insults, threats and insulting grafti have a long-term
negative effect on victims. The respondents who had a negative experience describe
the event with a lot of emotions and details, even if it happened years ago.
Each act of violence motivated by hatred has a strong impact on the targeted
community. Community members are very interested in what happened and how,
and what further consequences can be implied by a concrete event. These events
are long remembered and recounted. If, for example, gravestones are damaged
– although they are very distressed, the community members believe they are
powerless to do anything. One respondent described his feelings after one such
event: “I feel bad because of it, but one feels helpless” … (D. L., a 52 year old local
citizen) One returnee, whose house and business premises were damaged on few
occasions shared his experience: “I felt like somebody slapped me in the face for
no reason” (B. M., 32 years old, returnee). Some respondents think it is more about
humiliation and bitterness than fear when it comes to their safety.
Writing insulting grafti on public surfaces is also causing disturbance in the
community insulted by the grafti:
When they see grafti like: “Go away”, or “Knife, wire, Srebrenica” (B/C/S:
„Nož, žica, Srebrenica“), it is normal that you feel affected. We all know what
happened in Srebrenica, and see this as a direct threat. (S. A., a 32 year old,
policeman, returnee)
The respondent, a returnee whose property was damaged on few occasions and
who received threats described how it affected him:
It is not pleasant when it happens. On one occasion, there were seventeen of
us in the house, and a group of men arrived yelling: A..., tonight you will not
sleep! It was a really bad experience (A. H., 57 years old, returnee).
Individuals who have been victims of ethnicity or religion motivated violence
said that distrust and certain amount of fear remain long after the attack. They see
these attacks as a direct and serious threat to their personal safety, because they
belong to a certain ethnic or religious group. One respondent from Banja Luka, a
victim of violence, described his experience and consequences it had on him:
I have to leave to nd my peace. I came, but I did not nd peace. I was told
what would happen if I return, and that was exactly what happened. I was in
a situation that ve children between 18 or 19 years old attacked me. I was
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in a situation to take out my gun to protect my life. I don’t even know how I
managed to stop myself from shooting at them. I tried to talk my way out of
it, to threaten them a bit. Those children backed off when they saw the gun.
However, I asked myself how long this is going to last? Tomorrow some other
child will come, and then another, then another, one day I may have to use
my gun. And then what, I would have to go to jail! Then I decided to take my
passport and go abroad. (F. S., a 40 year old returnee)
Some respondents accept the existing state as normal, as a part of their lives.
Getting used to victimisation and accepting deviant as normal is a consequence
of previous negative experience, especially during the war. Compared to the
experiences in the war, current events have less signicance. Another reason is the
frequency of these events and the lack of responsibility, which gives an impression
that this is a common thing and cannot be changed under the existing circumstances,
but only accepted. One respondent, a Bosniak returnee to Bratunac, described his
life of a returnee:
It is very beautiful in Bratunac, there is some… they write: Nož, žica, Srebrenica
(knife, wire, Srebrenica), it appears overnight but it is also removed fast. It
was like that, there were provocations, but I think it happens on all sides. You
endure it, things settle… (J. B., a 57 year old returnee)
One of the most common ways of expressing religious hatred is breaking
windows on religious facilities. One returnee in Banja Luka told us about window
being broken on a mosque in his settlement:
People condemn it, although most of them don’t even notice it. Previously such
cases were reported to the police, after that the police would come investigate at
the scene of the crime. Now the windows are boarded, there is no more money.
People are not even commenting on it anymore. It has become normal... of
course it is not normal but what can you do... (S. E., 29 years old, returnee).
The consequences are visible mostly through the creation of a greater social
distance between different ethnic and religious groups. Each incident is causing
greater group cohesion of the community whose member was attacked and the
distrust towards other ethnic or religious group is increased. It is interesting to
notice that the people who live somewhere else are more afraid compared to
those who live there. On the one hand, it can be explained by getting inadequate
information, rumours, and media exaggeration of some events. On the other, it can
be assumed that the members of minority communities living there are getting used
to the existing circumstances:
Persons coming from abroad are scared ten times more. They are more afraid.
So when they come and plan to have their vacation for three or four weeks,
they cut it in half. To leave as soon as possible. The inhabitants living here
constantly, including myself, are used to it. It is like that! (F. S., 40 years old,
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Special problem is emigration of minorities from certain areas as a consequence
of continuous intimidation. Every act of violence motivated by ethnic or religious
hatred prompts the remaining inhabitants to question their decision to live in such a
community. Intimidation, murders, explosions and setting re to houses at the time
of intensive return had an especially negative impact. One respondent is telling
about the consequences of a murder of a returnee in central Bosnia: was a murder of a police ofcer in Travnik under whose car was planted a
bomb. Also one more police ofcer was killed in a similar way…This all had
a negative impact on the return of Croats. The family of one of the murdered
police ofcers had returned previously to Travnik, but after that event they left
and never came back (V. E., 39, local citizen).
One respondent commented on how some inter-ethnic incidents inuenced the
returnee population in Srebrenica:
There was fear, some who were in town and were obtaining some documents
left the same day, and those who returned left temporarily to the Federation.
Until things settled. (H. M., a 46 year old returnee)
One respondent from Sarajevo claims that there is a direct connection between
attacks on returnees, religious facilities and graveyards with emigration of the
minority population from that area. He explained it:
The best indicator is to check the ads in newspapers; you can see that mostly
Serb property is being sold. The recession stopped the emigration of Serbs
from this area. If there was no recession, I think that the remaining population
would reduce by half; they would sell their property and leave (Č. Đ., 40 years
old, local citizen).
The same respondent is describing the reaction of the population on the
occasion of destruction of gravestones:
People are sensitive about those things, then they make tragic decisions, for
example they exhume their deceased and take them to another location. It is
sad that Orthodox land here is sold and people are leaving. Orthodox cemetery
and homes are the only witnesses that orthodox Serbs lived here. The way
the things are, in some ten years, if nothing changes, it is a question if the
Orthodox Serbs will live here at all. Churches and graveyards should be the
witness of that, but the graveyards are gradually exhumed (Č. Đ., 40 years old,
local citizen).
Findings of our research indicate that beside inter-group conict there is a
specic latent conict between the members of the same ethnic or religious group.
Mostly it is a conict between the people who live somewhere on a permanent
basis and those who come there occasionally. For example, there are signicant
differences in perceptions of inter-ethnic relations between Bosniaks who returned
to their homes and those who stayed in Diaspora, and come to their birth place
for summer vacation. Also, similar tendency has been noticed in the Srebrenica
Conference Proceedings: Conference on Hate Crimes in South-East Europe,
Sarajevo, 8 November 2016
area, where local Serbs do not appreciate occasional visits of extreme groups from
Serbia. We are giving some examples illustrating this. One respondent, a returnee
from Banja Luka, said the following:
I get along with my neighbours ne, it is our common interest to live peacefully
and help each other as much as we can. When summer comes, people from
Diaspora come for a vacation and tensions, arguments and insults start. They
are here for a couple of weeks, drive their expensive ‘Volvo’ and leave, and I
stay here in my poverty and explain to my neighbour Serb, who lives as hard
as I do, that my Bosniak did not mean it like that – and we both know he did...
(F. S., 40 years old, returnee).
Hate crimes are primarily a security problem, because if the environment is
unstable in terms of security, these crimes carry a risk of outbreak of violence.
Although in the post-war period in Bosnia and Herzegovina this type of crime is in
a relative decline, the fact that the country is a post-conict zone and inter-ethnic
relations are disturbed should not be forgotten, and any such crime, regardless its
gravity, is causing new ethnic and religious divisions and is deepening the existing
ones. This way, new antagonisms are generated in a situation where the institutional
capacities for the control of hate crimes are not sufciently developed in Bosnia
and Herzegovina.
Hate crimes represent a threat for co-existence of different ethnic and religious
communities sharing the same living space and difcult experiences from the
previous war. However, due to the institutional weaknesses and inadequate
approach to this type of crime, it is difcult to give a realistic assessment of the
extent of this phenomenon. It is evident that the intensity of severe criminal offences
committed out of ethnic or religious hatred is signicantly declining compared to
the previous period, especially compared to the time of a more intensive return of
refugees and displaced persons. Hate crimes lead to feelings of personal insecurity
of victims and other members of the victim’s community, thus increasing social
distance between ethnic and religious groups, affecting demographic changes due
to the emigration of the minority peoples from certain areas, and contributing to
larger ethnic and religious homogenization, inevitably leading to inter-ethnic and
religious distrust and intolerance. Under some circumstances these types of events
can lead to escalation of violence and become a reason for a potential conict,
which has its roots in the historical disputes and structural controversies of the
modern Bosnia and Herzegovina. There has not been a large-scale violence since
the end of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, i.e. all the cases were localized.
However, violence with ethnic and religious motivation almost always creates a
tide of hate and intolerance that reaches beyond the local area where the event took
place, especially under the inuence of the media. Every hate crime, including
those that are wrongly perceived as such, represents a threat to peace and stability
in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Conference Proceedings: Conference on Hate Crimes in South-East Europe,
Sarajevo, 8 November 2016
One specic nding of our research is the existence of latent, inter-group
conict among the members of the same ethnic or religious group. The conict
exists among those who live in a local community and those who come there
occasionally. Their opinions differ signicantly when it comes to their perception
of co-existence with people of different ethnicity or religion. Those who do not
live in a local community do not understand or do not want to understand the
complexity of relations of people of different cultures living in the same area, their
inter-dependence in every-day life, interests, needs and values based on which they
form a positive opinion of each other.
Although the work on prevention and combating hate crimes is a demanding
task, good practices from around the world should be adjusted to the local
environment and used in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the strategic level this would
mean creating a strategy and action plan for combating hate crimes based on the
model used in Great Britain (Dixon, 2010).
Using other positive experiences clearly indicating that the efciency of the
police with regards to combatting hate crimes can be increased through establishing
specialized departments for combating hate crimes, through trainings for the
police, efcient data gathering, contacts with communities, harsher penal policy
and cooperation with the media should also be considered (Levin & Amster, 2007;
Cronin, McDevitt, Farrell & Nolan, 2007).
Given the lack of functional communication or acting of the relevant
institutions, using positive experiences of the United States of America in terms of
forming working groups encompassing different levels and jurisdictions (Phillips
& Orvis, 1999) in combating different types of crimes, including hate crimes,
should be considered. This is especially relevant in the areas of training, exchange
of information, and cooperation of police agencies at the state, entity and local
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Full-text available
In England and Wales, the Association of Chief Police Officers defines a broader notion of hate ‘incidents’ as ‘any incident, which may or may not constitute a criminal offence, which is perceived by the victim or any other person, as being motivated by prejudice or hate’ (ACPO 2005, p. 9). Hate ‘crime’ is simply those incidents which also contravene the law. The significance of these definitions is that they broaden the scope from labelling acts of ‘hatred’, to all acts based on prejudiced views. As such, hate crime is far more susceptible to social construction processes than other forms of crime. As Jacobs and Potter (1998) suggest, choices have to be made about the meaning of prejudice, the nature and strength of the causal link between the prejudice and the offence, as well as the types of crimes to be included. These choices ultimately determine what is, and what is not, ‘hate crime’, and therefore affect the size of the hate crime problem and the criminal justice response to it. As Jacobs and Potter (1998, p. 27) argue, ‘how much hate crime there is and what the appropriate response should be depends upon how hate crime is conceptualized and defined’.
Studying hate crimes in a country divided along sectarian lines, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, presents a substantial challenge for researchers. The consequences of hate crimes are multifaceted, and in an environment of institutional crime-control mechanisms that are still developing, these events can negatively affect society at large. Hate crimes often lead to ethnic and religious homogenisation, polarisation, intolerance, overt hatred and violence. This paper provides an overview of research findings relevant to policing hate crimes in post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina. Special focus is placed on policing at three levels: government policy (strategies for action at the level of the interior ministries), police policy (the implementation of action strategies in lower organisational units) and police practice (police fieldwork). The study is primarily based on a qualitative approach including interviews, observations and secondary data analyses. The general findings indicate that crime control is inadequate and influenced by an apparent lack of political will to tackle the problem. Our findings also revealed the absence of any systematic approach to deal with hate crimes, which implied numerous problems in policing at all levels. Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a transitional post-conflict country, has a long way ahead in establishing law enforcement institutions that will enable the rule of law, protect human rights and ensure political accountability.
This article reflects on the role of government in policy and practice developments regarding hate crime since the publication of the Lawrence Inquiry. It examines the key findings from the inquiry into Stephen?s death and its impact on specific criminal justice agencies. It reflects on the role of community activism. It summarizes the progress agencies have made in addressing the role of bias and hate in anti-social behaviour and offending. It explores the increased capacity to ?read? demographic trends to build community cohesion and anticipate community tensions. The article suggests that Labour?s leadership was a key driver in this progressive area of criminal justice and was characterized by its willingness to listen.
Since the bomb attacks that occurred in London on July 7, 2005, hate and faith-hate crimes and other incidents have become a major focus of the police and government in the United Kingdom. This article presents some of the research that has taken place on the nature and policing of hate crime over the past 5 years in the London Metropolitan Police Service. Focusing in particular on recent research into anti-Semitism where a new typology of incidents has been developed, the article reveals that the majority of hate incidents reported to the police in London are perpetrated by people with whom victims come into contact in their daily lives, rather than predominantly by strangers or extremists. This provides the police with a number of challenges for both strategic thinking and operational practice. It also highlights the continual need for close liaison and consultation with minority communities and vulnerable groups within London.
In recent years the European Union (EU) has witnessed rising levels of hate crime. However, although there have been a number of legislative and other policy initiatives introduced across the EU to combat such offences, these have developed in a piecemeal and sometimes half-hearted fashion. This article outlines the difficulties evident in theorizing hate crime and how these problems have been reflected in the divergent ways that hate crime legislation has developed across the EU. It argues that an approach to combating hate crime based on human rights, which is endorsed by many EU institutions, has failed to tackle the problem effectively and has resulted in the uneven protection of hate crime victim groups. By utilizing an individual rather than a group-based human rights approach, the damaging nature and effect of such ‘targeted victimization’ upon all hate crime victims can be better understood and addressed.