“Impunity continues for crimes under international law. Slurs by officials and media close to the government created a toxic environment for transitional justice activists and independent media” – Amnesty International says about Serbia in its latest report on human rights.
The report for 2017/2018 covers the state of human rights in 159 countries and territories, including Serbia, as it documents the struggle of many people to claim their rights, and the failures of governments to respect, protect and fulfill human rights.
Among other things, the report, which was published today, talks about freedom of expression in Serbia, and particularly the treatment of journalists by the state authorities. The report says that “investigative journalists were subjected to smear campaigns by ministers and media close to the government”, and continues: “The ruling party’s private security staff physically attacked six journalists reporting on demonstrations held during the presidential inauguration on 31 May.
In July, journalists working for the Network for Investigating Crime and Corruption (KRIK) received death threats, and the flat of investigative reporter Dragana Peco was broken into. In September, the Defence Minister’s political party accused KRIK editor-in-chief, Stevan Dojcinovic, of being a drug addict and paid by foreigners. This followed KRIK’s investigation into the minister’s property”.
As for war crimes and the judicial efficiency in processing war criminals, Amnesty International’s report says: “In May, Snezana Stanojkovic was elected Chief War Crimes Prosecutor. Only three prosecutions, all resulting in acquittals, were concluded at the Special War Crimes Chamber. The retrial continued of former soldiers indicted for war crimes in Kosovo, including the first indictment for rape. In October, the Appeals Court similarly dismissed charges against five former Bosnian Serb paramilitaries indicted for the February 1993 abduction of 20 people from a train at Štrpci station in BiH and their murder.”
Furthermore, the report touches upon the state’s treatment of the Roma people, as one of the most vulnerable groups in Serbia, and says ”Roma families in Belgrade continued to live in informal settlements. They were denied access to social and economic rights, including health, education, water and sanitation, and were at risk of forced eviction. Some 44 of over 100 Roma families forcibly evicted in 2012 were still living in containers awaiting resettlement; planned apartments for 22 families were not due to be completed until February 2019”.
Lastly, the report talks about the treatment of LGBTI community and adds: “The appointment of Ana Brnabic, a lesbian, as Prime Minister, and her presence at the Belgrade Pride in the capital in September was welcomed by some as progress. However, the authorities failed to protect LGBTI individuals and organizations from discrimination, threats and physical attacks.”
(Danas, Amnesty.org, 22.02.2018)
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