Three freedoms under the magnifying glass: 16-30 November

Belgrade, November 29, 2019

Review of violations of freedom of association, assembly and expression in Serbia: 16-30 November

The past two weeks can be characterized as a politically turbulent period in which the long-standing dilemma has been resolved by proclaiming the doctoral dissertation of Minister Sinisa Mali as plagiarism, which provoked violent reactions of top state officials with attacks on the autonomy of Belgrade University and Rector Ivanka Popovic. In parallel to this, journalists and media trying to objectively inform the public about the suspicious business of the Krusik factory and the involvement of the father of the Minister of Police in these affairs are targeted as “foreign mercenaries” and are blamed for the poor health of the President of the Republic. During this time, the whistle blower Aleksandar Obradovic is still under house arrest, which is why the Council of Europe reacted. Finally, a budget debate is underway in the National Assembly, in which the convicted criminal against Vojislav Seselj criticizes the allocation of funds for the functioning of civil society organizations, while on the other hand, the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government presented a Draft Law on Referendum and People’s Initiative containing provisions which significantly impede the direct participation of citizens in democratic processes.

After 6 months on the CIVICUS monitor watch list, Serbia has fallen into the category of countries where basic freedoms have been obstructed, signifying a significant collapse of freedom of assembly, expression and association. Serbia is the only country in the region in this category. As for the whole of Europe, Hungary, Ukraine and Moldova are in this category.

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.

* 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.