December 25, 2023


The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights is currently implementing a project called “Anti-Hate Speech in the Western Balkans” supported by CIVIL RIGHTS DEFENDERS. The main objective of this project is to enhance the capacity of civil society organizations to monitor hate speech through evidence-based advocacy and target group engagement in the Western Balkans (North Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, and Kosovo). Additionally, it aims to raise awareness among the general public by launching an online public campaign which is based on systematic monitoring of hate speech and encourages people to recognize and report instances of hate speech online.

For this purpose, the project implemented by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights involved a national expert drafting a regional policy document to combat hate speech in the Western Balkan countries (North Macedonia, Albania, Serbia and Kosovo). This document provides
an analysis of the best practices and lessons learned (especially from legislative and institutional response to hate speech) and highlights the impact of EU membership on hate speech legislation.

The document is focused on:
→ a regional legal analysis on the necessary changes in the legislation regarding the implementation of EU legal regulation and EU best practices in the field of hate speech;

→ presenting the current institutional setup in the region and what national protective mechanisms are available against hate speech; and

→ giving a set of recommendations for further improvement of the area of hate speech based on the data collected during the analysis and the project.

The analysis includes:
→ the current state of affairs (mechanisms in place, main parties involved, roles, interaction, effectiveness) in relation to the relevant international standards;→ reference to international practices and experiences that could be relevant as good practices or lessons learned;
→ existing shortcomings and challenges;
→ possible solutions and approaches to improve coordination and effectiveness in the fight against hate speech;

This document provides an analysis of relevant legislation, positive trends, shortcomings and challenges, formulation of recommendations based on EU and Council of Europe standards and best practices, and identification of potential mitigation strategies. The Helsinki Committee on Human Rights project supports these strategies and presents the institutional framework and protective mechanisms in the region to combat hate speech.

The main purpose of this document is to provide a set of recommendations for further advancement of the hate speech area based on the data collected during the analysis and the project.