Serbian authorities should acknowledge Srebrenica massacre as genocide, eradicate racism among football fans, and address violence against Roma and LGBT.
This is stated in a new report by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), a human rights body of the Council of Europe (CoE).
RFE is reporting that it has seen the document, which is published on the ECRI website.
“Despite progress in anti-discrimination legislation, strong efforts to reconcile with the war past, and improvement of the situation of Roma, much needs to be done in Serbia to address the continued rise in hate speech, fight racism among sports fans, protect Roma and LGBT persons and step up the prosecution of war crimes,” an ECRI statement said, announcing the report.
ECRI “welcomed the improvement of anti-hate legislation and practices, the recruitment of many police officers of Albanian origin, and the fact that the Anti-Discrimination Strategy provides for introducing legislation on registered partnerships for same-sex partnerships. Besides, the vast majority of Roma at risk of statelessness have received identity documents; efforts were made to increase the school enrollment of Roma children and quickly address school absenteeism.”
ECRI “notes with satisfaction that Radio and TV of Serbia recognized its role as a propaganda tool in the 90’s, and that the Parliament and the President apologized for the Srebrenica massacre. However, ECRI deplores the fact that neither of them has explicitly recognized that these massacres constituted genocide, as has been determined by international courts, and deeply regrets the slow progress made in the prosecution and sentencing of genocide and other racist war crimes.”
“Political leaders should officially recognize that the massacres committed in Srebrenica constitute genocide. Such recognition, as well as transparent investigation of all cases of violence is absolutely necessary to make sure that people of different ethnic communities would stop living in fear of intimidation and a new wave of hate crimes,” said Christian Ahlund, ECRI chairperson.
ECRI announced that other negative developments identified by ECRI include “the continued rise in hate speech in Serbian public discourse.”
“The use of inflammatory language is reminiscent to the situation before the recent wars in the region, ECRI’s experts note. More decisive action is needed to combat hate speech from racist organizations and, in particular, from racist football fan groups, ECRI says, further recommending that the authorities ban racist sports fan clubs,” the press release said, citing the report as stating, “This issue is of particular importance, given the role that racist and violent football fan groups played in the outbreak of the recent wars in the region.”
“Violence against Roma continues. In addition, only six percent of Roma children attend pre-school and only 46 percent complete compulsory education; in important parts of the public services, not a single Roma is employed. The efforts to improve the distressing housing conditions are insufficient, and 72 percent of all Roma settlements are still informal,” ECRI said, adding that homophobic and transphobic violence is heavily underreported – in 2015, the authorities registered only 33 racist, homo- and transphobic hate crimes in the whole country, whereas in a survey 23 percent of Serbian LGBT persons said that they had suffered physical violence in the past; frequently from family members.
Among other recommendations, the report recommends to the Serbian Assembly and government to adopt codes of conduct which prohibit the use of hate speech, and to the Serbian authorities to give high priority to hiring a proportionate number of Roma and members of other minorities to the civil service.