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Application of Legislation, Criminal Cases, Court Rulings

Application of Legislation, Criminal Cases, Court Rulings Constitutional Coart of Slovakia

Slovakia established a National Human Rights Centre in 1994, which provides legal advice in cases related to discrimination and intolerance.The centre also published annual reports on human rights in Slovakia” Regional offices of the centre are located in Banska Bystrica, Kosice and Zilina.

Slovakia has a special Government Commissioner for Roma Communities, as well as the State Council for Human Rights, National Minorities and Gender Equality. There is also an LGBT Rights Committee and Committee for Preventing and Eliminating Racism, Xenophobia, Anti-Semitism and Other Forms of Intolerance.

In 2014, the Council ordered Trhova Gradska municipality to provide bilingual birth certificates”.

In 2012, Slovakia adopted a Roma Integration Programme, which aims to eliminate Roma segregation and combat discrimination against them”.

In 2008, Slovakia adopted a support plan for disadvantaged communities. In 2012, the programme was stopped due to lack of funds, but resumed in 2014.”

Regions across Slovakia introduced the position of special prosecutor to deal with cases of extremism. Corresponding police departments have also been established”.

State TV channel RTVS sacked Kristina Kormutova for anti-Roma posts on Facebook.

D. Rusnak resigned from his position as head of the Presidential Office after his xenophobic remarks (see below).

On the other hand, there is evidence to believe that the struggle against xenophobia is not sufficiently implemented in practice. Roma integration programmes are not executed due to lack of will and mismanagement on the state level. Roma Rights Commissioner does not have the authority to allocate appropriate funds, instead this is done through the Interior Ministry. Very often, integration measures are a sham. ECRI reports that out of 400 teachers assistants who were supposed to liaise with Roma students most do not speak their native language.

The European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF) criticised six European countries, including the Czech Republic and Slovakia, for “restraint” in combatting racism towards Roma and reluctance to increase their living conditions. ERTF’s 2014 Annual Report, published on October 10, reads, “The situation of the Roma today is no better than 40 years ago.” The organisation notes that a number of crucial recommendations regarding, for example, the living conditions of the Roma minority, have yet to be implemented.

On October 23, 2014, Milan Šimečka Fund published a report on Roma in Social Politics 2014” The study was based on the monitoring of events related to the Roma community, expert assessment and surveys. 41 respondents were to rate 10 statements on a 5-point scale. In general, government activities in resolving the so-called “Roma issue” were rated 3.54 points, i.e. slightly better compared to 2013 (3.62). Most successful measure implemented by Robert Fico’s cabinet was the publication of the Atlas of Roma communities (2.08) and the adoption of a healthcare programme for Roma (2.16). Intervention in the attacks on Roma in Moldava nad Bodvou on June 19, 2013, and in the activities of Ombudsman Jana Dubovcova were rated as least successful (4.85). Furthermore, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Justice and General Prosecution are responsible for gathering information on hate crime. However, data is spread across various categories and groups, which makes it difficult to analyse.

Non-governmental organisations that appeal to courts on behalf of victims often face difficulties in receiving fees for legal work. It is also worth noting that authorities and state human rights commissioners are often reluctant to react to homophobic remarks made by politicians.

On October 30, 2014, Commissioner for Human Rights in Slovakia Jana Dubovcova met with representatives of the CoE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. She said that the case regarding police officers who attacked Roma people in Moldava nad Bodvou in June 2013 is tacking a bad turn, where the victims can become the accused. In this context, Commissioner noted that Slovakia has yet to establish an independent investigative body that would monitor police compliance with the law.

On October 20, 2014, Bratislava District Court sentenced neo-Nazis who attacked patrons of Mariatchi bar in Nitra (October 2013). Tomas Spishak struck a deal with the prosecution and pleaded guilty, admitting that he struck a helpless man who was lying of the ground. He was sentenced to a fine of 400 euros for hooliganism, and ordered to cover victim’s medical expenses.

July 2, 2017 The Office of the Special Prosecutor's Office (OSP) released statistics on cases of extremism in the first half of 2017. During this time, the prosecutor's office considered 80 cases, 30 on incidents in the first quarter of the year, 50 in the second. According to Yana Tyokelova, press secretary of the USP, about half of the cases are related to the infringement of fundamental rights and freedoms. As a rule, this is wearing clothes with fascist symbols in public places, displaying fascist symbols on social networks or public tattoos with extremist symbols. In the second quarter of 2017, the main focus of work was the identification of criminal activity in social networks, where information about the practices of German Nazism in the Slovak state during the Second World War is most often disseminated. More than 15 citizens were brought to justice.

In January 2018, the Office of the Special Prosecutor's Office (OSP) released data for 2017 as a whole. Prosecutors opened 178 cases of extremism, involving 47 people. Particular attention is paid to the promotion of communities in social networks focused on the infringement of the rights and freedoms of certain social, ethnic or religious groups. Gypsies and Jews, their social practices and religious rites are the most frequently targeted. In 2017, 62 such cases were recorded. For articles related to hate, i.e. 4 indictments were filed for crimes with a qualifying motive, 11 citizens were convicted. Three deputies of the National Council were brought to justice, which was not the case before.

Since a hate crime is not a separately codified crime in Slovak law, the hate motive is considered as an aggravating circumstance in the commission of other crimes. According to the OSCE/ODIHR, where since 2016 Slovakia has been transmitting information on judicial investigations and court verdicts, in 2016, 9 criminal cases with an aggravated hate motive were investigated and 3 sentences were handed down. In 2017 this ratio was 16/10, in 2018 it was 20/15, in 2019 it was 38/8, and in 2020 it was 16/6.

At the same time, in 2016, the police registered 10 hate crimes, in 2017 - 34, in 2018 - 41, in 2019 - 50 and in 2020 - 20. criminal code of the country as a separate crime. Non-governmental organizations generally confirm the police data.

During the coronavirus pandemic and strict quarantine restrictions, the government took active measures to combat domestic violence. Thus, in April 2021, the Prime Minister allocated 3 million euros to centers for victims of domestic violence to increase funding for shelters.

In April 2021, the government adopted a new National Strategy for Equality, Inclusion and Participation of the Roma until 2030, which was positively evaluated by NGOs, although they noted that the implementation of such documents in the past was often uneven.

The Committee for the Prevention and Eradication of Racism, Xenophobia and Other Forms of Intolerance functioned under the Government Council for Human Rights, National Minorities and Gender Equality. Since 2017, “extremist” crimes have come under the jurisdiction of the National Anti-Terrorism Unit of the National Crime Agency and are prosecuted by the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office at the Specialized Criminal Court. To the merit of these specialized law enforcement and prosecution agencies, experts attribute an increase in the number of cases and a higher percentage of convictions of persons who have committed “extremist” crimes, as well as an increase in the significance of the problem in society.

In April the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of LSNS regional chairman Anton Grno, who in 2020 was found guilty of supporting a movement aimed at suppressing human rights and fundamental freedoms. During a 2018 Supreme Court hearing, Grno shouted the greeting of the World War II-era Slovak fascist state’s paramilitary force. Grno was fined 5,000 euros ($5,750) and sentenced to six months in prison should he fail to pay the fine. Media outlets reported that Grno’s social media profiles contained several openly racist and anti-Semitic posts.

In October the Supreme Court confirmed a verdict of the Specialized Criminal Court, which in 2019 found Tibor Eliot Rostas, editor in chief of Zem a vek magazine, guilty of defamation of race and nation for his anti-Semitic article, “Wedge of Jews Among Slavs.” The court upheld the original sentence of a 4,000 euro ($4,600) penalty, which Rostas paid in December, thus avoiding a three-month prison sentence. In 2019 both Rostas and the prosecutor appealed the sentence. In the original 2017 article in Zem a vek, which local experts labeled a conspiracy magazine, Rostas wrote about centuries-long efforts of Jews to drive wedges among Slavs and destroy their traditions, culture, and values, drawing on selected anti-Semitic quotes of prominent political figures from Slovak history.

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