April 4, 2016

Tolerance of Hate Speech leads to Acts of Hatred!

The Platform against Hate Speech*  appeals to the competent state institutions, to the Ministry of Interior, the Public Prosecution Offices and the Courts, to urgently and without delay undertake measures for prosecuting hate speech. We remind the competent institutions that the impunity with regard to spreading and promoting hate speech in public spaces does not represent only tolerance, but also justification of hate speech. Far worse, with this failure to act, its usage is being encouraged. Furthermore, it should be kept in mind that such free use of hate speech imminently leads to the danger ofresulting into or causing acts of hatred.

The Platform welcomes the press release and the motion for prosecution issued by the Association of Journalists (AJM) and the Independent Union of Journalists and Media Workers (IUJMW), regarding Milenko Nedelkovski’s spreading and promoting of hate speech.**  Namely, Milenko Nedelkovski, who is a public figure, has been engaging on multiple occasions in spreading and promoting hate speech, both on his Facebook profile, and in his published texts (columns). The hate speech employed by Nedelkovski is funded upon various bases and provokes further spreading of hate speech by other persons, in the form of comments and reactions. In this particular case, which is the subject of the AJM’s press release, the hate speech is directed against journalists, while in other instances, victims of Nedelkovski’s hate speech were political representatives, civil activists and members of marginalized groups. High representatives of the international organization OSCE also noted Nedelkovski’s use of hate speech. They denounced such speech and asked for the Council of Media Ethics’ reaction.***

The members of the Platform had filed charges to the Ministry of Interior and the Public Prosecution on several occasions in the past, but none of those cases have been processed, and no measures for criminal prosecution were undertaken by the competent authorities. The Public Prosecution’s findings that the aforementioned person did not commit the criminal offense of instigating hatred, discrimination or violence are astonishing, considering that in this case, as well as on several other occasions, Nedelkovski issued direct threats that he would perpetrate violence. In a similar case, on 12. July 2015, Hedelkovski threatened with violence the journalist Vladimir Petrovski, editor in chief of the Media Fact Checking Service, claiming that he would “personally even the score with him.” On 24 October 2014, on his Facebook page, Milenko Nedelkovski, using hate speech all along, was justifying the attack on the “Damar” club, where the LGBTI Support Center was celebrating its birthday. That attack was an obvious case of hate crime. Quite some time has elapsed since the criminal charges were filed,****  but the Prosecution Office has not initiated court procedure as of yet.

Hence, the Platform calls upon the competent authorities to undertake urgent measures for prosecuting and punishing Milenko Nedelkovski. An appropriate penalty would preempt and prevent spreading of hate speech and instigating of violence in the future.

* Members of the Platform are the following: Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Metamorphosis – Foundation for Internet and Society, MIM – Macedonian Institute for Media, Civil MK, MEF, Paktis – Prilep.

** http://www.znm.org.mk/drupal-7.7/mk/node/987

*** http://24vesti.mk/sovetot-za-etika-vo-mediumite-reagira-za-upotrebata-na-govor-na-omraza

**** The criminal charges were filed by the Coalition “Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities”, the Helsinki Committee, and the LGBTI Support Center.