Human rights expert: Rise in intimidation of regime’s critics in Serbia

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The head of the Civil Council for Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Whistleblowers Rodoljub Sabic warned on Wednesday of “an alarming increase of attacks, pressures and intimidation” of the activists and organisations of civil society and independent journalists and media outlets which criticised the regime in Serbia.

Sabic, the former Commissioner for Information of Public Interest, added that „the rise in the number of such incidents shows further deterioration of the rule of law and the meaningless of the respective institutions.“


He said that it was particularly warring that behind numerous attacks and threats to independent media and NGOs was the state, whether directly or indirectly, violating the country’s Constitution and obligations originating from international commitments.


„It’s inadmissible and dangerous when high-ranked officials incite such incidents, abuse resources and warranties, or when the regime logistically or financially supports those who carry out the attacks,“ Sabic said in a written statement.


He singled out the example from the northern town of Zrenjanin where „the public witnessed physical harassment of people during a peaceful protest for drinking water, frightening messages to the local Juzne Vesti website and pro-regime media’s brutal labeling of independent outlets and NGOs, in the last two weeks.“


Sabic said that it was even worse when besides „many untruths in an article titled ‘Western Megaphones Receive Millions’, those allegations and insinuations are backed by Administration for Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing’s campaign against individuals and NGOs.“


„All leading international institutions specialised in money laundering and terrorist financing said that there was no basis for such a procedure of the Administration, but the Government never gave an acceptable explanation,“ Sabic said.


He added the procedure aimed to „intensify the chase against all those critical of the Government.“


That, according to Sabic, is „both a violation of the law and a great and ugly contribution to the further collapse of what is left of the country’s reputation in international relations.“


His statement came at the same time when the European Parliament (EP) suggested the improvement of election conditions in Serbia ahead of the April 2022 vote with specific reference to media freedom as a part of the inter-party dialogue which MEPs tried to mediate to avoid another opposition’s boycott of the ballot.


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