Announcement

Announcement regarding the comment Deputy Assembly Speaker and MP Vjerica Radeta posted on her Twitter account

July 25, 2018

The Belgrade Centre for Human Rights most vehemently condemns the comment Deputy Assembly Speaker and MP Vjerica Radeta posted on her Twitter account in response to the passing of Hatidža Mehmedović, the Chairwoman of the Mothers of Srebrenica association. Statements inciting ethnic and religious hatred and intolerance, and denying and relativising the crime of genocide and war crimes, as well as offensive attitudes towards victims of such crimes, are part of the everyday narrative of the Serbian Radical Party, in which Radeta holds the office of Deputy President. Her comment is merely the latest, albeit the most drastic, illustration of her increasingly frequent hate speech.

The BCHR is gravely concerned by the total absence of response by all the relevant institutions and the fact that impunity for inciting ethnic and religious hatred has rendered hate speech in public discourse commonplace. We hereby also appeal to the National Assembly to take a view on this issue and send a clear and unambiguous message condemning such actions by MPs. 

The BCHR will in this case, too, apply the existing legal mechanisms of protection, in the hope that the relevant institutions will not remain silent to such gross violations of the Constitution and the law.

Open Letter to the high representatives of the states participating on the Sofia Summit

May 19, 2018

Open letter to the representatives of the European Union institutions and countries participating in the Summit in Sofia, sent by the coordinators of the National Convention on the EU and the Working Group on Chapter 23 to the participants of the Summit in Sofia can be found HERE.

Bearing in mind the importance of the Sofia Summit for the EU as a timely and high level debate within the EU countries as well as the challenges and opportunities that integrations of the Western Balkans bring to the European Union;

Following the Strategy for the Western Balkans of the European Commission that opens the doors for the countries of our surrounding, along with the time frame and clear perspective of finalizing all the EU integration processes in certain countries and speeding the processes in other countries;

We, the organizations within the National Convention on the EU and the Working Group for the Chapter 23, feel the need to send common message to the leaders of the EU countries, as well as to the leaders of the countries striving toward EU on the utmost importance of the enforcement of rule of law principles, as the ones deeply written in the fundaments of the EU, with clear separation of powers, independent and strong judiciary and prosecution capable of delivering the results in areas, such as fight against corruption and other aspects of crime, fight against discrimination, etc.

 

 

 

Protecting people across borders – NGO statement ahead of the EU-Western Balkans Summit of 17 May 2018

May 14, 2018

On Thursday 17 May, EU Heads of State are meeting their counterparts from the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo) to discuss cooperation in several areas, including migration and security. Following increased arrivals of refugees and migrants to both the Western Balkans and the EU, the issue of border control has gained prominence, resulting in more investments and cooperation agreements between the EU and Western Balkan countries. At the same time refugees and migrants, including children and other vulnerable groups, are facing serious risks in the Western Balkans and in the EU including violence, repeated pushbacks and collective expulsions. In November 2017 a 6-year old girl lost her life after being pushed back from Croatia into Serbia. The EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency mentioned access to the territory as a persistent challenge in its February report on migration, reporting ill treatment by border officials, including physical violence in Bulgaria, Croatia and Hungary. Repeated pushbacks were also reported at the Hungarian border. Protecting borders should not come at the expense of protecting people. Ahead of the Western Balkan Summit we call on Heads of States in the EU and in the Western Balkans to address the following concerns and recommendations:

 

  1. Respect for the right to claim asylum
  2. Humane border management and support for victims of trafficking
  3. Safe and regular pathways
  4. Funding for humane and fair asylum systems and integration
  5. Protect civil society organisations working with refugees and migrants

 

Read full statement by:

  • ADRA
  • Asylum Protection Center, Serbia
  • Belgrade Centre for Human Rights
  • Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
  • Bulgarian Red Cross
  • CARE
  • Center for youth integration Serbia
  • Centre for Peace Studies Croatia
  • Croatian Law Centre
  • Danish Refugee Council
  • European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE)
  • Info Park, Serbia
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Legis, FYROM
  • Macedonian Young Lawyers Association (MYLA)
  • Minority Rights Group Europe
  • Oxfam
  • Praxis, Serbia
  • Refugee Aid Serbia
  • Save the Children

Press Release on Public Debate on Amendments to Constitutional Provisions on the Judiciary

September 6, 2017

OrganizacijeCivic associations with years-long experience in law and the judiciary hereby express concern about the way in which the expert and general public is engaged in the constitutional amendment procedure. In our opinion, the representatives of the Government and Justice Ministry need to open a public debate on constitutional amendments without delay, in which they will involve not only select civic associations (which had submitted their written suggestions on constitutional amendments), but other associations, institutions and most importantly – the citizens – as well. We call on the Justice Ministry to publish the draft constitutional amendments to be debated.

The Chapter 23 Action Plan specifies that the Constitution will be amended by the end of 2017. The Justice Ministry said that the amendments would primarily concern the provisions on the constitutional status of the judiciary and has to date focused on collecting the views of civic associations on the requisite constitutional amendments, whereby it has totally excluded from the consultations the citizens, who are not members of any association. Such an approach indicates that the decisions on the draft amendments will be taken by a narrow circle of Government officials and the authorities’ intention to present the held and planned consultations as a public debate – which they are not, either in scope or in content. 

Constitutional amendments, particularly those geared at establishing the independence of the judiciary, are of exceptional importance to all of Serbia’s citizens. They are the ones who will feel the good and adverse effects of the constitutional amendments the most. To recall, the citizens clearly voiced their views on the key constitutional provisions in need of change in surveys conducted to date. The citizens extremely poorly rated the protection of their constitutional rights in a 2011 survey on the Constitution; nearly two-thirds of them qualified the judiciary as politicised, the manner in which the 2006 Constitution was adopted as undemocratic and the adoption of constitutional amendments not preceded by a public debate as illegitimate.[1]

Regardless of these data, the Justice Ministry organised one meeting within its public consultation procedure, at which the associations were given only five minutes each to present the amendments they proposed but no opportunity to debate them. The Government and the Justice Ministry did not present their draft constitutional amendments either at the meeting or subsequently.

The Justice Ministry said that the ensuing consultations would focus on issues that were not constitutional. It is unclear why discussion on constitutional amendments is now focusing on these issues, while the independence of the judiciary and political influence on judicial officers has been side-lined.

We therefore call on the Government and the Justice Ministry to extend the deadline by which the Constitution is to be amended and to urgently restore the framework of the debate on the amendments warranted by their importance.                                

Belgrade,

6 September 2017

 

Judges’ Association of Serbia

Association of Prosecutors of Serbia

Center for Judicial Research

Belgrade Centre for Human Rights

Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights

 

Press release is available on this link.

 

[1] Open Society Fund survey conducted by IPSOS Strategic Marketing on a representative sample of Serbia’s citizens

The Human Rights and Business Country Guide Serbia

June 10, 2016

human-rights-and-bisnisThe Human Rights and Business Country Guide Serbia provides country-specific guidance to help companies respect human rights and contribute to development,

for more see: http://hrbcountryguide.org/.
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The Year of the Refugee

December 30, 2015

The advancement of Islamists in Iraq and Syria alongside unceasing clashes between government and rebel forces, the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan wherein the highest number of civilian casualties in the last 15 years was recorded, as well as the expansion of territories under control of ethnic and religious rebels in Libya and Yemen, and further deterioration of countries in sub-Saharan Africa led to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing to Europe since May 2015.

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