22 Oct Three freedoms under the magnifying glass: 1-15 October, 2019
Belgrade, October 17th, 2019
Review of Violations of Freedom of Association, Assembly and Expression in Serbia 1-15. October 2019
Fear that freedom of assembly, association and expression are only declaratively guaranteed by the normative acts of the Republic of Serbia, has received official confirmation last week. On the CIVICUS Monitor list, Serbia fell from the category of countries where basic freedoms and civic space were narrowed to the category of countries where they were obstructed. This has made Serbia one of the most vulnerable countries in Europe, alongside Hungary, Ukraine and Moldova. Serbia is also the only country in the region in this category.
A very intense period of narrowing of fundamental freedoms speaks to the fact that this is not a mere report. The past two weeks have been marked by violence at protests against the construction of mini-hydroelectric power plants in Topli Do, breaking into the home of a KRIK journalist, the public expression of doubt about the suitability of the Rector of the University of Belgrade and a professor at the Faculty of Philosophy based on their background. The case that has attracted a lot of media attention relates to the criminal charges filed against the actor Branislav Trifunovic for allegedly tearing the flag of Serbia during a play, and the most recent case that sparked new waves of protest concerns the detention of a Krusik factory worker, who pointed to Branko Stefanovic’s involvement in an international arms trade affair. Branko Stefanovic is the father of the Minister of Interior, Nebojsa Stefanovic
Representatives of 20 civil society organisations signed in Belgrade the Three Freedoms Platform for the Protection of Civic Space in the Republic of Serbia, in order to protect and promote the freedom of association, assembly and information. The Platform is intended to act as a joint block of civil society organizations (associations, professional organizations, foundations, endowments, and other forms of associations including informal groups of citizens) to stand for the protection of endangered freedoms and create conditions for unhindered participation of citizens in public affairs through civil society development.
In March this year Serbia was placed on the CIVICUS Monitor Watch List as a country where these freedoms are seriously threatened.
* Civic Initiatives as a partner of CIVICUS Monitor for Serbia send bi-weekly reports in English since August 2018. Learn more about the CIVICUS Monitor here.