12 Mar The arrest of Aleksandar Jovanović Ćuta is a suppression of civic activism

Belgrade, March 11, 2021- 



The platform “Three Freedoms” strongly condemns the arrest of the civil activist of the initiative “Lets Defend the Rivers of Stara Planina” (ORSP) of Aleksandar Jovanović Ćuta and demands that the Ministry of Internal Affairs urgently provide citizens with an explanation of their services in this case.

The interrogation of Jovanović by the Service for the Fight against Organized Crime (SBPOK) after his guest appearance on the show “Impression of the Week” is the most serious violation of basic human rights and freedoms. The alleged need to collect information from citizens due to the possible commission of a crime after Jovanovic’s announcements that a protest called “Ecological Uprising” will be organized in Belgrade and that he is ready to block in his fight for a healthy environment and certain roads are only a cover for open suffocation freedom and civic activism.

In this way, the right to freedom of expression is directly endangered, letting people know that they can bear the legal consequences of expressing personal views and opinions. Freedom of association is also threatened, bearing in mind that this is not the first case, but only a continuation of the permanent institutional pressure to which the activists of the ORSP initiative have been exposed for years. The goal of such pressures is preventive deterrence from future activism, as well as that the motive for concrete apprehension is the announcement of a mass ecological protest, it is clear that in this way the freedom of assembly of citizens is also endangered, which completely narrows the space for joint action and active citizens who want to influence all aspects of social life.

Organizations gathered around the “Three Freedoms” platform say that the Ministry of Internal Affairs owes the public an explanation for why Jovanovic was detained, who ordered his arrest, and especially because of the circumstances in which the collection of information from him was conducted by the Service for the Fight Against Organized (SBPOK), whose competence is to detect and prevent precisely determined, most serious criminal offenses. We express hope that the Ministry of Internal Affairs has finally become interested in the illegal actions of institutions and individuals that Jovanovic has spoken about publicly in recent months and years, but we also appeal to the competent authorities to express their interest in a way that does not endanger activists and all citizens of Serbia.

The Three Freedoms Platform aims to contribute to the democratization of society, the rule of law and the active participation of citizens through the protection and promotion of freedom of association, assembly and information. The platform : Civic Initiatives, Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability (CRTA), Transparency Serbia, Belgrade Center for Security Policy, Belgrade Center for Human Rights, YUCOM – Committee of Lawyers for Human Rights, Center for Cultural Decontamination , Trag Foundation, Our Endowment, Serbia on the Move, New Optimism, Center for Practical Policy, Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation, Autonomous Women’s Center, A11, Helsinki Committee, Catalyst Balkans, National Coalition for Decentralization, Partners Serbia.