Ending hate speech and discrimination closer than ever – year-long project to train municipal staff concludes

6 Jul 2023

Ending hate speech and discrimination closer than ever – year-long project to train municipal staff concludes

75 municipal officials from 17 municipalities in Kosovo are now even more equipped to detect discrimination – and put a stop to hate speech –  after a year-long training project.

The first phase of the Council of Europe and UNMIK joint project, in coordination with the Office for Good Governance, human rights, equal opportunities, and non-discrimination, which entailed learning about different types of discrimination and methods of gathering information and reporting on it, concluded last week with 39 municipal officers receiving training certificates. Those trained were also given 42 indicators to help identify instances of discrimination or hate speech.

Municipality of Kamenicë/Kamenica Anti-Discrimination Officer Nazmije Demolli Kastrati said it was an honour to be part of the training course.

"As [we] human rights officers are local, we give our utmost to protect human rights at the local level…the project allows Kosovo to have an effective mechanism to solve issues of discrimination."

The participants learned about relevant local case law as well as international human rights standards. Tutor Arberita Kryeziu explained that during trainings most participants had stories about discrimination issues they encountered on a daily basis – and said human rights officers provided a bridge between central and local government in relation to discrimination.

 "We explored together the local and international human rights instruments and issues faced by non-majority communities in Kosovo."

Director of the Office for Good Governance (OGG), Habit Hajredini said there was still much to learn on the journey to put an end to hate speech and discrimination in Kosovo – and said the training had helped identify mistakes made and lessons learned: “Our aim is not to stop - we are at a very important stage to restructure structures at the local and central levels [to enhance reporting of hate speech and discrimination and implementation of the Law on the Protection from Discrimination].”

Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Kosovo and Chief of UNMIK’s Human Rights Component Jerome Bouyjou said the project had netted big results: "Half of Kosovo's municipalities are now equipped with specific indicators of discrimination, increased understanding of international anti-discrimination standards, and an expanded awareness of the relevant case law."