National frameworks to address hate crime in Serbia

This page provides information on the national frameworks to address hate crime in Serbia. The information provided here should be viewed alongside data presented on Serbia's hate crime report page.

Hate crime recording and data collection

The police record incidents committed based on national, racial, and religious bias on the basis of reports gathered by regional police administrations and other organizational units of Serbia's Ministry of Internal Affairs. Incidents are recorded in line with a methodology developed by the Directorate for Analytics in 2004. There is no special database in which hate crimes are recorded, but manual records are used.

The recording of hate crimes is conducted in all 83 public prosecutor offices in accordance with official guidelines. There is an instruction that defines record keeping on hate crimes within the meaning of the aggravating circumstance under Article 54a of the Criminal Code, including on providing a specific indication of the motive of the criminal offence. Under the General Compulsory Instruction 4/2018 of 28 September 2018, each Prosecutor's Office includes a prosecutor appointed as a contact point and tasked with collecting information and issuing quarterly reports on activities regarding hate crimes to the Public Prosecutor's Office.

In addition to hate crimes, the Prosecutor's Office records the criminal offences of incitement to ethnic, racial and religious hatred and intolerance (Article 317 of the Criminal Code), racial and other discrimination (Article 387 of the Criminal Code), as well as other criminal offences covered in the Criminal Code.

The Public Prosecutor's Office and competent public prosecutor's offices co-operate with relevant civil society organizations (CSOs) on the basis of signed protocols. Regular co-ordination meetings are held twice a year and involve representatives of the Public Prosecutor's Office, other competent state bodies and CSOs to prevent hate crimes in Serbia. These meetings are organized by the Office for Human Rights and Minority Rights and the OSCE Mission to Serbia. During meetings, CSO representatives have the opportunity to point out potential hate crime cases. Specific guidelines have been developed to ensure that hate crimes are effectively prosecuted in Serbia.

Hate crime victim support

Serbia offers support to victims of hate crime as part of its general victim support system. There are government-funded agencies and civil society organizations (CSOs) intended specifically for hate crime victims. CSO providers of specialized support for hate crime victims are often dependent on external funding sources and have limited geographical reach.

Support and Information Service for Witnesses and Injured Parties (SSWIP) are available at public prosecutor's offices in Belgrade, including the War Crimes Prosecutor's Office and the Organized Crime Prosecutor's Office. They are tasked with improving support to witnesses and injured parties and providing them with information and logistical support, with the aim of facilitating their participation in the proceedings and preventing their secondary victimization. These offices co-operate informally with CSOs providing victim support services, including legal advice, psychological counselling or specialized support to hate crime victims.

In addition, hate crime focal points within public prosecutor's offices are in charge of monitoring the hate crime recording system and practices, consulting with the acting prosecutor, establishing contacts with the victim and the police officer assigned to the case, and facilitating dialogue with specialized CSOs to facilitate hate crime victim support. In major cities there are dedicated police officers assigned as contact points for vulnerable victims. Guidelines for police on addressing LGBTI victims of hate crime were developed jointly with specialist CSOs.

The SSWIP conduct individual needs assessment that take into account the bias motivation of the crime and recognize the specific needs of hate crime victims. All crime victims are provided with basic information about available support services offered by CSOs and can be referred to the relevant providers by the SSWIP. However, referrals are not institutionalized or automatic. While SSWIP employees are familiar with victim support, they are not trained specifically on hate crimes.

All crime victims may be granted interpretation services. Victims of hate crime are eligible for the status of particularly vulnerable victims, allowing them to appoint a proxy for criminal proceedings and benefit from a number of special protection measures. These include the questioning of victims only by a criminal justice authority who is obliged to demonstrate special care and concern; questioning victims with the assistance of a psychologist, social worker or other professional, and/or with the use of audio-visual equipment and without the presence of other parties; and the possibility to appoint a legal representative. Particularly vulnerable victims may also be questioned at home, in an authorized institution or on other premises, and by a specially qualified person. Such victims may not be questioned by the defendant, unless the defendant requests this and the authority conducting proceedings grants the request after taking into account the victim’s vulnerability. Guidelines for prosecutors recommend that these special protection measures be granted to victims of hate crimes.

In addition, the Code of Criminal Procedure provides victims of crime acting as injured parties in criminal proceedings with a number of procedural rights, including the right: to submit and propose evidence; examine a case file and items that can serve as evidence; be notified of the rejection of the criminal complaint or of the public prosecutor's withdrawal from criminal prosecution; or file an objection against the public prosecutor's decision. 

Victims of crimes can obtain compensation from the state.

Hate crime capacity building

The training of public prosecutors on the topic of hate crimes is integrated into the training plan of the Judicial Academy – the institution responsible for training judges and prosecutors.

Permanent professional training takes place according to the annual programmes adopted by the Minister of Internal Affairs, and is mandatory for police officers who directly exercise police powers. The professional training programmes include modules on human rights and working with vulnerable groups.