United Nations Geneva
Multimedia Newsroom
Edited Story / 2:57 / MP4 / 216.9 MB

14-01-2022 | Edited News

UNOG Bi-Weekly Press Briefing: Bosnia and Herzegovina / Serbia - Hate Speech - OHCHR

ENG

  1. Exterior shot, United Nations in Geneva, flag alley
  2. Wide shot, press briefing room at the United Nations in Geneva
  3. SOUNDBITE (English) – Liz Throssell, OHCHR spokesperson: “We are deeply concerned by recent incidents in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Serbia that saw individuals glorify atrocity crimes and convicted war criminals, target certain communities with hate speech, and, in some cases, directly incite violence”.
  4. Close up, hands typing
  5. SOUNDBITE (English) – Liz Throssell, OHCHR spokesperson: “These acts, which happened amid religious holidays last weekend, included large groups of people chanting the name of convicted war criminal Ratko Mladić during torchlight processions or singing nationalistic songs calling for the takeover of various locations in the former Yugoslavia. In one incident, individuals fired shots into the air as they drove past a mosque”.
  6. Medium shot, cameraman and journalist in press briefing room
  7. SOUNDBITE (English) – Liz Throssell, OHCHR spokesperson: “These incidents - some in locations that saw large-scale atrocity crimes during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, such as Prijedor and Foca - are an affront to survivors, including those who returned to their homes after the conflict. The failure to prevent and sanction such acts, which fuel a climate of extreme anxiety, fear and insecurity in some communities, is a major obstacle to trust-building and reconciliation”. 
  8. Medium shot, journalist listening
  9. SOUNDBITE (English) – Liz Throssell, OHCHR spokesperson: “We stress once again the need for the authorities in Serbia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina to abide by their international human rights obligations to ensure the rights to truth, justice and reparation. They should also adopt measures to prevent recurrence and to promote further reconciliation efforts. We call on them to condemn and refrain from any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred”. 
  10. Medium shot, journalists listening in the press briefing room
  11. SOUNDBITE (English) – Liz Throssell, OHCHR spokesperson: “We are encouraged to see that, following some of the recent incidents, officials - including senior politicians, as well as religious leaders - moved quickly to condemn the acts, and police have begun investigations”.
  12. Close up screen with UN spokesperson in the background
  13. SOUNDBITE (English) – Liz Throssell, OHCHR spokesperson: “People who live in areas that were the scene of mass atrocity crimes during the conflict, people who may have returned to their homes but are living in a climate of fear and insecurity and that is why we, and also other parts of the UN, are repeating and putting our focus on the importance of hate speech and other related incidents, the glorification of war criminals, convicted war criminals”.
  14. Close up, camera with screen and big screens in the press briefing room in the background
  15. Wide shot, press briefing room with journalists and speaker at the podium
  16. Medium shot, journalists

The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) is alarmed by recent incidents which took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as in Serbia fuelled by the continued inflammatory, nationalistic rhetoric and hate speech by individuals and, in some cases, by politicians.  

“We are deeply concerned by recent incidents in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Serbia that saw individuals glorify atrocity crimes and convicted war criminals, target certain communities with hate speech, and, in some cases, directly incite violence”, said Liz Throssell, an OHCHR’s spokesperson at a news briefing today at the United Nations in Geneva.

The incidents took place in several locations in the Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including Bijeljina, Prijedor, Foča, Gacko, Višegrad, as well as in the Brčko District, and in Priboj and Novi Pazar in Serbia.

The fear, and the risk, is that these acts will continue increasing in 2022 when elections are due to take place in Serbia in April, and in October in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  

“These acts, which happened amid religious holidays last weekend, included large groups of people chanting the name of convicted war criminal Ratko Mladić during torchlight processions or singing nationalistic songs calling for the takeover of various locations in the former Yugoslavia”, said Ms Throssell. “In one incident, individuals fired shots into the air as they drove past a mosque”.

Some of the incidents occurred in places where atrocity crimes were committed during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“These incidents - some in locations that saw large-scale atrocity crimes during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, such as Prijedor and Foca - are an affront to survivors, including those who returned to their homes after the conflict”, Ms. Throssel said. “The failure to prevent and sanction such acts, which fuel a climate of extreme anxiety, fear and insecurity in some communities, is a major obstacle to trust-building and reconciliation”. 

According to OHCHR, the rise in hate speech, the denial of genocide and other atrocity crimes as well as the glorification of war criminals in the Western Balkans highlight the failure to comprehensively address the past.

“We stress once again the need for the authorities in Serbia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina to abide by their international human rights obligations to ensure the rights to truth, justice and reparation”, said Ms Throssell, adding that “they should also adopt measures to prevent recurrence and to promote further reconciliation efforts. We call on them to condemn and refrain from any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred”. 

OHCHR highlighted the important role that political and religious leaders must play in speaking out firmly against intolerance, discriminatory stereotyping, and instances of hate speech.

“We are encouraged to see that, following some of the recent incidents, officials - including senior politicians, as well as religious leaders - moved quickly to condemn the acts, and police have begun investigations”, Liz Throssell said.

As Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina are both states to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, they are - according to OHCHR - obliged to ensure that incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence is prohibited in law and in practice. All perpetrators and instigators of such acts must be held accountable.

Ms. Throssell said that “people who live in areas that were the scene of mass atrocity crimes during the conflict, people who may have returned to their homes but are living in a climate of fear and insecurity and that is why we, and also other parts of the UN, are repeating and putting our focus on the importance of hate speech and other related incidents, the glorification of war criminals, convicted war criminals”.

-ends-


More Related News