Three Freedoms Under the Magnifying Glass: December 15 – December 28, 2023

Belgrade, December 28, 2023

Violations of basic freedoms in Serbia

December 15 – December 28, 2023


We are nearing the end of 2023, but in the past two weeks human rights have been more threatened than ever.

Not even ten days after the election, the political tensions in the country have not calmed down. Domestic and foreign observers pointing out electoral irregularities and the failure of institutions to respond to allegations of electoral theft have put citizens in a situation where they are fighting for democracy on the streets. Protests are held every evening in front of the Republican Election Commission, and the peaceful character of the protests took a sudden turn on December 24, when the police used excessive force on the ransomed.

On December 24, after the RIK, the protest rally continued in front of the building of the City Assembly, when MPs from the opposition parties tried to enter the building. Their entry was prevented by strong police forces securing the Assembly building. Soon a group of hooded men threw stones at the entrance. The Coalition of Serbia against Violence announced that these are hooligans who were planted by the government in order to cause riots at the protest. The police then threw smoke bombs and pepper spray at the crowd and began to break up the protest. Numerous examples of violent behavior of the police towards the demonstrators were recorded in the videos and photos, and several people were injured in the police assault. Several press teams were attacked during the protest.

Particularly exposed to pressure and targeting are young people who organize student protests. Young activists who, after the election, protested in front of the Republic Election Commission (RIK) to express their dissatisfaction with the cancellation of the electoral will of the citizens of Belgrade, immediately found themselves the target of interest of the security services and pro-government tabloids. At the protest on the second evening, an unknown woman was filmed scrolling through the photos from the personal documents of the young activists who stood out at the protest the day before, when the cameras recorded their debate with representatives of the opposition. The tabloids came into possession of an image from the biometric ID card of an activist, which could only have come from police officers. Authorities abuse the security services and target young people through tabloids, sending a message that this country not only does not work in the interests of young people, but very actively works to dissuade them from wanting to build their own future in it.

You can find more details about these cases in the full report below.