News 11 Dec 12

Belgrade NGOs Criticise Serbian Government

Serbian human rights NGOs have issued a report criticizing the government’s progress in the fields of human rights, transitional justice and rule of law.

Marija Ristic
Belgrade's House of Human Rights I Photo by Beta

Marking the occasion of Human Rights Day and the opening of the Belgrade House of Human Rights, which brings together Serbia’s five biggest NGOs, the human rights activists have released a report, saying that present government made limited progress in the area of human rights, transitional justice and rule of law.

Presenting the report, Dragan Popovic, the head of the Centre for Practical Policy, said that the regional cooperation between Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia is at its lowest point since the 2000.

For the poor state of regional cooperation the report blames Serbia’s president, Tomislav Nikolic for his statements that the 1995 killing of over 7,000 Bosniaks in Srebrenica was not genocide and that the Croatian town of Vukovar is a Serb town.

 “And again we have the so called black list of unwanted organizations made by far right groups. And we still do not have civil control over security services,” Popovic said, referring to the recent calls by the Serbian far-right movement "SNP Nasi" for the country's NGOs and media funded from abroad to be labelled as "foreign agents".

“And often politicians interfere into the judicial and prosecution’s work which seriously endangers rule of law,” Popovic added.

"There must be a division of powers - only the prosecution and the judicial system should deal with criminal cases and trials, and politicians must not have or share information about who will be arrested," Popovic noted.

The mayor of Belgrade, Dragan Djilas, says that the biggest failure of the Serbian government was banning the Gay Pride Parade in October this year, adding that this also is a shame for the Serbian capital.

“However problem is that we speak about LGBT rights only a few days before the Pride. We should tackle this issue every day during the year,” Djilas said.

The United Kingdom ambassador to Serbia, Michael Davenport, noted that the rights of national minorities need to be improved, as the laws who protected them are good on paper, but there is a lack of implementation.

Following the presentation of the report, NGO activists marched to the government building and handed the report to Dusan Ignjatovic, head of the government's Office of Human and Minority Rights.

As a response, the ruling Progressives have issued a statement, saying that Human Rights Day has been viciously misused in order to politically discredit Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and the Deputy Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vucic.

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the globe on 10 December to honour the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the United Nations General Assembly adopted on December 10, 1948.


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