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Ombudsman's Response to Manifestations of Violence

15.06.2011 13:11
Category: work and news


The Slovenian Human Rights Ombudsman (HRO) recently took note of several events, the common denominator of which is the occurrence of violence. The acts of violence, which took place in various environments and under different circumstances, always deeply affect the person attacked. The HRO has on different occasions expressed its objection to any form of violence, irrespective of whether it occurs in families or in public places. The HRO particularly denounces the acts of violence motivated by the hatred of people who are different, and committed on the basis of any personal circumstance. Recent events demonstrate that the public expression of intolerance and hatred has passed another milestone, since it increasingly manifests itself in physical violence. This calls for an even more resolute action of the competent national authorities.

The HRO has been taking note of the underestimation of such manifestations of violence for many years, this underestimation being unfortunately also shown by the State Prosecutor's Office which, judging by its response, obviously gives preference to preventive activities over prosecution. The HRO has also established deficiencies in connection with the definition and stricter sanctions for criminal offences committed out of hatred and on the basis of personal circumstances. This gap in Slovenian legislation has also been pointed out by international institutions.

In preventing public incitement to hatred and intolerance towards people who are different, a special responsibility is attributed to politicians, who should serve as an example of tolerance and acceptance of diversity not only through the policies they advocate but also through their personal conduct. Different views and convictions may never be a reason for hatred.

When violent events occur, the public and the media rightly question the actions of the public authorities, which should ensure safety to all people, and discover and punish perpetrators of the acts of violence. Therefore, it needs to be communicated that in the case of the homophobic attack on a foreign national in Ljubljana, the HRO, after having been informed of the incident, promptly took measures on its own initiative and, among other things, asked the police for clarification of this incident. The HRO will act in the same manner in relation to the attack on the head of the Buddhist community in Slovenia. The HRO can only examine whether the competent authorities carried out their work pursuant to their powers. However, according to the information available, a special intervention by the HRO to this effect has thus far not been considered necessary. The HRO expects that the perpetrators will be discovered and their motives established, and appropriately dealt with.

In cases of violence or incitement to hatred, the HRO is confronted with expectations to take sides by (only) denouncing the violence of the opposite side. It needs to be emphasised that the HRO always takes the side of non-violence, which is fundamental for the implementation of human rights. The Slovenian Human Rights Ombudsman, Zdenka Čebašek-Travnik, stands for zero tolerance of violence, no matter who the victim of this violence is or who performs it. Therefore, she again calls on all the inhabitants of Slovenia to contribute to the common efforts for a society of tolerance and non-violence.


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