20 July, 2014

Encouraging people to act: Interactive websites for reporting Hate Crimes and Hate Speech incidents in Macedonia

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Category: European Action Day, Guest writer
Gubaz Koberidze
1 pm

unnamedWritten by: Pavle Bogoevski

LGBTI Support Centre

Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of Republic of Macedonia

As a part of its project activities, the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of Republic of Macedonia maintains two interactive websites for hate crimes and hate speech reporting and public awareness rising. The web portals www.zlostorstvaodomraza.com (Zlostorstva od Omraza means Hate Crimes in Macedonian) and www.govornaomraza.mk (Govor na Omraza means Hate Speech in Macedonian) are interactive platforms enabling citizens to receive information and report on hate crimes and hate speech incidents. They contain interactive maps showing the exact or approximate location of the incidents and frequency of incidents by location. The home page lists the categories of hate crimes and bias motivations of hate crimes and hate speech, provides information regarding the way in which citizens can report (e-applications, twitter, email, and online form), and displays statistical graphics. There are also FAQ, Resources, and Glossary sections on the web portals, under which information regarding the projects, the meaning and scope of terms used, and publications on hate crimes is provided.

The site that reports on hate crimes is older and more developed. There, each incident is detailed in Macedonian and English, and our team is working on translation of the content to Albanian as well (the Albanian language is the second most commonly used in our country). Furthermore, a detailed description of the bias indicators is provided, which is the basis for the argument of why each of the incidents is selected to be portrayed as a hate crime incident. The site that reports on hate speech was established later (the first incident was reported in February this year), and our team is working on the translation of the content in English and Albanian as well.

The national media has started using the portals made by the local seo agency as a credible source, using data and screenshots on their web pages. Also, a solid number of international, national and local media have reported about the projects and the web portals in Macedonian, Albanian, and English.

The effects of these web pages are numerous: they serve as a tool for educating citizens in distinguishing hate crimes from “regular” crimes, and hate speech from freedom of expression; Via the multiple options for anonymous and safe reporting of hate crime and hate speech incidents, we are encouraging people to report and initiate actions against such incidents (due to the fact that the Helsinki Committee follows up on every hate crime incident, and reacts on more severe hate speech manifestations); And finally, the fact that they increase the visibility of individual incidents, encourages institutions and state officials as well to act within their legal authorities.

But, the best aspect of this reporting system is that it is not limited to any specific country – it can be almost readily implemented in all others. Based on the open source Ushahidi platform, our portals offers a functioning tool for easy implementation and usage of open source – interactive platform that supports multiple modules of safe and anonymous reporting and tracking of hate crimes and hate speech incidents. All others have to do is change the categories of reported incidents according to their respective national legislation and/or project requirements.

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