US State Department’s report on human rights in Serbia in 2022

The US State Department published the annual report on the state of human rights in the world in 2022 and dissected all the problems in Serbia that concern this area. The judiciary, violation of freedom of expression, government corruption, gender violence and violence against members of the LBGTQ community are just some of them.

In terms of media being vehicles for political influence, the report notes:” Media dependence on government advertising revenue strongly benefited political incumbents, who observers noted could leverage this for political gain, and made it difficult for opposition leaders, who lacked broad access to media outlets and finances, to reach potential voters. In July the media regulatory body, following a process one of its members publicly denounced as corrupt, re-awarded the four current licenses for national TV frequencies to media outlets identified by civil society as pro-government, denying applications from several outlets identified as independent or pro-opposition.”

The report also mentions verbal and physical violence that anti-government journalists in Serbia are exposed to:” The Independent Journalists Association of Serbia reported 132 registered attacks on journalists during the year, of which nine were physical attacks, four were attacks on journalists’ property, six were threats to a journalist’s property, 80 were cases of various types of pressure and 33 were verbal or online threats or intimidation. RSF noted that due to the restrictive media environment in the country, journalists often self-censored.”

“In November the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Danas, Dragoljub Petrovic, received an email threatening Danas’ journalists, editors, and columnists with a “barrage of bullets” because of their editorial position on issues related to Kosovo, Republika Srpska, and EuroPride, among other topics. The letter characterized Danas’ staff as “domestic traitors” and accused them of “taking the side of the enemy of the Serbian people.” President Vucic condemned the threats, and the Ministry of Interior announced it had received a report on the incident from Danas and would investigate the source of the threat. The investigation remained ongoing Page 12 at year’s end”, the report also mentions.

As for the rights of the LGBTQI+ community to congregate, the report says the following:” On August 27, President Vucic announced the government’s decision to “cancel or postpone” the 2022 EuroPride parade, the culmination of a weeklong pan-European LGBTQI+ festival, scheduled to take place in Belgrade on September 17, citing security concerns. The Ministry of Interior subsequently banned the originally planned parade route due to unspecified security concerns. The EuroPride organizers appealed this decision to the police and in the Administrative and Constitutional Courts and formally applied to the Ministry of Interior to hold the parade along a much-truncated route. Hours before the march was scheduled to begin, the ministry released an official statement that confirmed the organizers had legal permission to hold a gathering.”

The report also touched upon an increase in domestic violence cases and the authorities’ ineffectiveness in preventing these cases from occurring:” While the law provides women with the right to obtain a restraining order against abusers, the government did not enforce the law effectively. The head of the Coordination Body for Gender Equality announced that through mid-December, 26 women had been killed in family/partnership violence. The country does not have an official femicide registry and women’s groups believed the total number of killings to be higher than the 26 cases reported in the media. As of September, there were 238,174 reported instances of domestic violence since the law was introduced in 2017. According to the National Statistical Bureau’s research on gender-based violence, one in five women suffered psychological abuse from a partner, one in 10 suffered physical or sexual violence, and one in five was sexually harassed in their workplace.”

(Danas, 2022 Human Rights Report, 23.03.2023)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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