Three Freedoms Under the Magnifying Glass: January 12 – January 25, 2024

Belgrade, January 25, 2024

Violations of basic freedoms in Serbia

January 12 – January 25, 2024

After a relatively peaceful start to 2024, attacks on freedom of expression, assembly and association continued as before.

In the observed period, critical media and journalists continued to face threats and intimidation, which indicates that this profession has become one of the most risky in Serbia. For days, N1 journalist Vanja Đurić and Nova S journalist Željko Veljković have been the target of verbal attacks on platform X for commenting on the performance before the Red Star match in which a girl from Kosovo sang a nationalist song. Although the journalist’s comments did not refer to the girl, but to the general socio-political climate in the country, they very quickly came under attack from politicians in the government, but also from certain right-wing parties, and a large number of unknown persons who misused the mention of the child in order to insult journalists. The journalists were labeled as “Serb-haters”, and some of the comments contained open death threats. Local media are also exposed to different pressures. The director of the “Branko Radičević” Elementary School from Bujanovac filed a criminal complaint against Bujanovačke portal journalist Ivana Jovanović for writing about the reconstruction of the school. Following the report, the police came to the premises of this portal to take a statement from the journalist.

The organization CRTA was the target of an orchestrated campaign by high-ranking state officials. Since the December 17 election, CRTA has faced relentless attacks for pointing out electoral irregularities recorded that day. CRTA was attacked by the president, the prime minister and other members of the ruling party. Vladimir Đukanović went the furthest in his attacks, calling for the arrest of CRTA employees and the banning of this organization. The attacks on CRTA were condemned, in addition to domestic non-governmental organizations, by numerous foreign officials.

The already traditional labeling of non-governmental organizations as “foreign mercenaries” was also faced by Roma organizations. The President of the Temporary Authority of the City of Belgrade, Aleksandar Šapić, accused Roma organizations of “taking money from international non-governmental organizations on the topic of Roma for decades, but they are asleep when Roma are really threatened and when someone attacks them”. The multiple marginalization faced by Roma people in Serbia did not prevent Aleksandar Šapić from continuing with discriminatory statements and insulting the Roma community, and this time also the organizations that fight to improve the position of this community in our country.

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