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Combatting Hate Speech: Legal Professionals and Civil Society in Kosovo Gain Access to ‘HELP’ Platform - In Their Own Native Language

In a world struggling with the pervasive challenge of hate speech, legal professionals in Kosovo are poised to take a significant step forward, with the launch of a HELP platform. The platform, developed by the Council of Europe, aims to equip legal professionals, academics and civil society with the tools and knowledge necessary to effectively tackle and combat hate speech and discrimination within their communities. It offers a wide range of online courses, from combating hate speech and addressing human trafficking to asylum, migration, and personal data protection.

"There is no doubt that hate speech is considered a threat to democracy and peace all over the world," affirmed Niman Hajdari, the Deputy Ombudsperson of Kosovo - during the award and launch event, attended by over 70 officials representing various local and central institutions, as well as civil society. Meanwhile, a first round of 35 officials were awarded certificates for completing the HELP course on discrimination.

With the support of UNMIK, Kosovo welcomed the rollout of the Council of Europe's HELP platform, uniquely customized in both official local languages, Albanian and Serbian. The launch of the platform is the outcome of collaborative efforts from various stakeholders, while it is essential in addressing all forms of hate speech, which often result in discrimination and human rights violations.

Jerome Bouyjou, the head of UNMIK's Office of Human Rights and Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed gratitude to the Council of Europe for their cooperation in facilitating such initiatives. He also commended the efforts of Kosovo institutions, municipalities, and civil society in mobilizing to address hate speech at every level.

“I congratulate the recipients of the certificates from across Kosovo and different institutions and organizations that have completed the HELP course on discrimination, concluding with a quote from the Secretary-General: “hate speech is a danger to everyone and fighting it – is a job for everyone.’”

Participants in a panel discussion also offered invaluable insights and strategic approaches in effectively countering hate speech. Their collective expertise and perspectives illustrated the path forward, underscoring the importance of collaborative efforts between institutions and civil society in fostering a culture of tolerance and respect within institutions and all communities.

“Such courses are crucial to addressing the situation” said Blendë Pira from the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, emphasizing that hate speech only increases further marginalization and prevents inclusion.

Supporting Togetherness while Addressing Human Rights Violations: The Path Forward

UNMIK is investing its efforts to implement the 2023 Trust Building Forum recommendations, a significant portion of which relates to human rights issues. The mission remains committed to supporting tangible initiatives that directly improve living standards and foster inclusivity across all communities. The ongoing project, "Promoting Human Rights and Non-Discrimination Principles at the Local Level," focuses on enhancing the capacities of municipal authorities and relevant institutions. This includes training for local field staff, municipal agencies, and departments across various regions of Kosovo.