The methodological recommendations of the new version of the pre-trial investigation regarding hate crimes, inciting hate speech, that were approved by the Prosecutor General‘s Office of the Republic of Lithuania, came into force on the 1st of April, 2020.
The recommendations present the concepts of hate crimes and hate speech, the criteria and specifics of their delimitation, as well as other concepts relevant to the identification and investigation of this type of crime, concepts of vulnerable groups, the main principles of pre-trial investigation and organization, international communication, qualification of crimes.
The Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania guarantees the inviolability of a person’s private life, the right to have one’s convictions and to express them freely, to seek, receive and disseminate information and ideas, and freedom of thought, belief and conscience. However, these rights are not absolute. While implementing his/her rights and freedom, a person must comply with the Constitution and laws, not restrict the rights and freedom of other people. In practice, challenges are often encountered when pre-trial investigation officers have to separate freedom of expression from hate speech, so the criteria and principles are indicated in the recommendations to help the officers to solve all the issues in practice.
The recommendations promote a conscious and sensitive attitude of law enforcement officials towards victims of hate crimes or hate speech and emphasize the need for special protection needs assessments and special protection measures.