Croatian Ombudswoman Lora Vidović has published a study criticising several state institutions for violating the fundamental values of the country’s constitution and not taking measures against growing levels of hate speech, historical revisionism and explicit usage of Nazi symbols.
“Throughout Croatia, both the U symbol, used by the Ustaša movement, and swastikas can be clearly seen,” said Vidović in a statement. She expressed her concerns over the widespread use of these symbols on websites and social media, which in most cases, is accompanied by derogatory comments inciting hatred against the Roma, Serbs, Jews and others.
Vidović stressed that historical revisionism is promoted in the mainstream media, including the public broadcaster and that such views have also gained visibility in the official gazette of Catholic Church as well as nationalist outlets. “In recent years, books and articles have been written and published, public forums held, documentaries filmed and TV shows broadcast denying or diminishing the criminal character of the NDH, the Nazi-allied Croatian state in the second world war,” she added.
Commenting on the absence of official reactions by the government, led by the conservative Christian Democratic Union, she further concluded that authorities tolerate the issues of hate speech and fascism, which contributes to the intensification of revisionist attitudes.
Vidović claims that the government’s inaction is not in line with the European Parliament Resolution on the Rise of Neo-Fascist Violence in Europe, which urges EU member states to take immediate measures to condemn and suppress all forms of hate speech and denial of the Holocaust, including the minimisation of Nazi crimes. It should be noted that the same resolution also expressed concerns over the rise of right-wing extremism and neo-fascism in Croatia.
Moreover, in spite of the fact that the Croatian Criminal Code prohibits incitement to hatred and violence and public approval, denial or belittlement of criminal acts of genocide, acts of aggression, crimes against humanity or war crimes, those using Nazi symbols and chanting Nazi greetings are not being prosecuted, with small fines for misdemeanours being the usual penalty.