Human Rights Ombudsman dr. Zdenka Čebašek Travnik and Information Commissioner Nataša Pirc Musar warned about the lack of case law that would determine what constitutes hate speech, as they attended a panel on hate speech in the media at the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences on Thursday.
Čebašek Travnik stressed that the data available to the Human Rights Ombudsman showed that Slovenian courts had issued as few as five final rulings in cases of hate speech over the past five years. "This means that we lack case law in this area," she added.
She pointed to changes in penal policies as a possible solution for the issue, as "those that spread hate speech will receive immediate feedback that this is something that is in violation of law".
The Ombudsman moreover said that her office tried to fight against hate speech in various ways, from publishing the cases on the Ombudsman's website and in its annual reports to handing the cases over to the prosecution.
Pirc Musar meanwhile stressed that most cases of hate speech in Slovenia were already held up at the prosecution, which does not press charges after receiving a report.
While she expects authorities to determine what hate speech is, Pirc Musar believes that the main feature of hate speech is that it is aimed at a certain vulnerable group of people and not against individuals.
She also highlighted the use of hate speech on internet forums, which in her opinion has mushroomed. Pirc Musar added that this was probably because authors of hateful comments could not be be prosecuted as their personal information could not be obtained.
According to her, internet forums should prevent anonymous comments, while editors should be responsible in cases where this is allowed.
Dr. Marko Milosavljević, a professor at the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences, said that journalists often failed to recognise hate speech from libel, while another professor at the faculty, dr. Vasja Vehovar, noted that media often lack staff to monitor all the comments.