The Coalition for the Fight against Hate Speech and Hate Crimes strongly condemns the attack that took place on June 25, 2016 in the evening at a mosque in Banja Luka, Vrbanja neighborhood. At the time of the attack, there were mostly women and children in the mosque’s courtyard and in the mosque itself. The two attackers, later identified by police as Ljubiša Božić (37) and Branko Pačavra (38), threatened those present to kill them all, closed the mosque door and tried to draw a cross on it, swearing and insulting those present on the base of ethnicity and physically assaulted a local imam.
Although police responded promptly and apprehended both attackers, they were questioned about “disturbing public order and peace” and were released the following morning.
Please note that the attacks on believers and imams were preceded by verbal attacks and insults, that one attacker had a knife and it is evident that they carried out this attack motivated by hatred based on the ethnic and religious affiliation of those present, and therefore we believe that this case should not be characterized as misdemeanor.
In 2013, Republika Srpska adopted amendments to the Criminal Code regulate hate crime. That is why members of the Coalition for the Fight against Hate Speech and Hate Crimes urge the competent authorities, primarily the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republika Srpska, to respond appropriately and to sanction every criminal offense of hate crime as a criminal offense, which in their basis have incitement of national, racial or religious hatred, discord, or intolerance.
Also, the Coalition members express their fear that failing to punish perpertrators of this crimilan act, as well as more frequent attacks on returnees, will not contribute to the process of reconciliation and coexistence in BiH. We hereby publicly invite all those responsible for taking all necessary measures to prevent any future violence from becoming an integral part of the public and social life of Bosnia and Herzegovina, thus preventing hate crimes and hate speech.
The Coalition for the Fight against Hate Speech and Hate Crimes was formed in January 2013 with the support of the OSCE and Civil Right Defenders. The main objective of the Coalition is to advocate for adequate regulation of hate speech and hate crimes in the criminal legislation of both entities and the Brčko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to harmonize criminal legislation.
Members of the Coalition for the Fight against Hate Speech and Hate Crimes:
Association for Democratic Initiatives
BH Journalists Association
Civil Rights Defenders
KVART Youth Center
Press Council of BiH
Sarajevo Open Centre
The CURE Foundation
The Mediacentar Sarajevo Foundation
Truth, Justice, Reconciliation Foundation
Youth Initiative for Human Rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina (YIHR)
Youth News Association in BiH (ONA)