The Slovenia Times

Hate crimes to carry stiffer sentences

A gavel. Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA

The Slovenian National Assembly has passed amendments to the criminal code that bring harsher sentences for hate crimes committed based on the victim's personal circumstances such as national origin, race, sex, language or religion.

The amendment to article 49 of the Criminal Code, which provides general rules on sentencing, says that if a crime is committed against a victim due to the victim's personal circumstances, this will be considered an aggravating circumstance in the sentencing.

The amendment refers back to article 14 of the Constitution, which stipulates that everyone enjoys human rights and fundamental freedoms "irrespective of national origin, race, sex, language, religion, political, or other conviction, material standing, birth, education, social status, disability, or any other personal circumstance."

The harsher sentencing, confirmed by the National Assembly on 27 January, is the first step towards a new systemic approach to hate crimes, Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan said during the committee debate.

The ruling coalition welcomed the change wholeheartedly arguing that hate crimes have a destructive impact on the community at large, erode social cohesion and aggravate social tensions.

The centre-right opposition voted against, with the Democrats (SDS) opposing the amendment because it wanted the wording to explicitly state that the motivation of hate is always an aggravating circumstance.

New Slovenia (NSi) argued that existing legislation provides enough instruments to prosecute hate crimes but should be more consistently applied.

The amendments also transpose the provisions of several EU directives dealing with trafficking in persons, EU funds fraud, and the fight against terrorism.


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