According to Amnesty International’s annual human rights report, Serbia has made no progress in prosecuting war crimes, the destiny of missing persons still hasn’t been determined, journalists are intimidated and under attack, while discrimination and domestic violence are still rife.
The report also notes excessive force that the police used against protesters in the summer of 2020.
As far as prosecution of war criminals from the 1990s civil war goes, the report says:” No progress was made towards implementing the national war crimes strategy, opening investigations into the backlog of more than 2,500 war crimes cases, or indicting senior police or military officials for command responsibility. Seven indictments were raised, and five first instance decisions were delivered. Prosecutions of low-level perpetrators in cases transferred from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) were extremely slow. Proceedings against 10 men related to the Srebrenica genocide continued to be delayed by the absences of the accused. In January, proceedings opened against a Bosnian Serb police officer, charged with raping a Bosniak woman in August 1992.”
In regard to the excessive use of force by police officers during the summer of 2020 street protests, the report states: “Over 70 people were seriously injured and 223 arrested during several days of demonstrations in July following the President’s ban on public gatherings and proposed weekend curfew. Although right-wing activists invaded the Parliament, most protesters were peaceful. However, police fired tear gas and stun grenades indiscriminately, and protesters and bystanders alike were charged by mounted police or beaten. Four journalists were seriously injured by police in separate incidents across the country, including Žikica Stevanović who was hospitalized with head injuries, despite showing his press card. A joint NGO report documenting 13 allegations of ill-treatment was sent in July to the UN Special Rapporteur on torture. No police officers had been prosecuted by the end of the year.”
The report also warns of intimidation that independent journalists have been experiencing, namely:” Physical attacks, intimidation and political slurs on social media against media workers continued. In April, journalist Ana Lalić was arrested for “causing panic” when investigating conditions in hospitals; staff were prohibited from providing “unauthorized” information. Journalists were briefly excluded from government press conferences, ostensibly for health reasons. In July, the Finance Ministry targeted individuals, investigative journalists and 37 human rights NGOs in demanding bank account details under a law used to investigate terrorist financing and money laundering.
Last but not least, the report also warns about growing domestic violence and says that “In April, the NGO Autonomous Women’s Center reported a threefold increase in contacts from women during the curfew. Many described the intensification of psychological, economic or physical violence, and their fear of reporting violence to the authorities without access to protection. At least 22 women were killed by a partner or family member before 25 November.”
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