Three Freedoms Under the Magnifying Glass: November 3 – November 16, 2023

Belgrade, November 16, 2023

Violations of basic freedoms in Serbia

November 3 – November 16, 2023

In the past two weeks, the trend of limiting freedom of expression, assembly, and association continued.

On November 1, President Aleksandar Vučić and President of the Assembly Vladimir Orlić announced extraordinary parliamentary elections and elections in several cities and municipalities. At the very beginning of the pre-election campaign, a campaign against critical media and an attack on freedom of expression and assembly began.

Tendentially deceiving the public about the content of the published text, the government representatives made accusations against Danas and its journalists. Thus Ana Brnabić called the journalists of this media “uncivilized sadists and haters”, while Minister Tomislav Momirović went a step further and threatened Danas by saying “You will pay for this and you will also be purged in these elections”. Independent media are regularly exposed to targeting campaigns, and that the situation with media freedom in Serbia is problematic is stated in The European Commission’s annual report which states that “Media freedom in Serbia is still under challenge, especially considering they see cases of threats, intimidation, hate speech and violence against journalists”.

The signatories of the initiative “ProGlas” were also targeted by the government representatives and pro-regime media. The “ProGlas” initiative, which is supported by a group of intellectuals and public figures, aims to invite citizens to participate in the upcoming elections. Shortly after the signing of the initiative, a campaign against those who support this action was launched, and at the first panel of this initiative in Zrenjanin, there was a minor incident when two Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) officials tried to prevent its normal development by shouting.

Several men blocked the entrance, with cars, to the family house of Jovan Jovanov, one of the organizers of the agricultural protest in Bavanište. The men who blocked the entrance to Jovan’s house, where his wife and two children were at the time, were led by Dragan Šljivovački, a local official of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). The threat to basic civil and political freedoms is particularly expressed at the local level, where the pressures to which citizens are exposed are multiple, and the mechanisms for resisting them are more difficult to access and achieve.

 

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