TROLL OF THE MONTH: Ninoslav Cmolić, Head of the Criminal Police Directorate, Serbia

May 10, 2024

The Balkan Troll of the Month is an individual, a group of individuals or a media outlet that spreads hate based on gender, ethnicity, religion, or other diversity categories. The Balkan Troll is selected based on hate speech incidents identified across the Western Balkans region.

Ninoslav Cmolić, the Head of the Criminal Police Directorate, was interviewed on TV Informer regarding the suspects in the case of Danka Ilić, a two-year-old girl who went missing in Serbia. During the interview, Cmolić revealed that the individuals implicated in her disappearance were two employees of the water supply company in Bor, Serbia, who have been accused of her murder. 

In the segment, talking about the accused offenders, Cmolić proceeded to comment on the ethnicity of the two individuals, saying that “it is such a personality profile, there is no empathy, the IQ is very low. Again, that area itself is strange to us, the dialect, the speech, they are Vlachs.” The Vlachs are a Romanian-speaking ethnic group living in eastern Serbia, mainly within the Timok Valley. 

With this one statement, Cmolić made swooping generalisations about the ethnic group of the two accused. In this way he insulted a whole ethnic group in Serbia and other people living in Bor and eastern Serbia, calling them stupid, strange, and insinuating they are violent and not to be trusted.

In response to this, the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality reacted, criticising Cmolić’s statement, saying that “emphasising the national and ethnic affiliation of the accused for the death of a two-year-old girl, as well as attributing negative characteristics and propensity to illegal behavior to all Vlachs, is prohibited by law and stigmatising for all members of the Vlach national minority”. Alongside this, several civil society organisations reacted as well.

Highlighting the ethnicity of those accused of murder and furthermore, making generalisations about ethnic groups is extremely harmful and discriminatory.  

Commenting on someone’s ethnicity in relation to a crime risks perpetuating harmful stereotypes and prejudices. Generalising and linking such acts to an entire ethnic group further fuels intolerance and division in society. Exactly for that reason, revealing the ethnicity of perpetrators of criminal acts is also forbidden by the Serbian Code of Journalism Ethics.

A head of a criminal police directorate should uphold the highest standards of professionalism and objectivity, avoiding generalised statements about ethnicity that can fuel discrimination and undermine trust in law enforcement. Such actions not only perpetuate harmful stereotypes but also erode the integrity of the justice system. Ninoslav Cmolić should issue an apology and retract his discriminatory remarks, acknowledging the harm inflicted upon the Vlachs community.