"Authorities must immediately stop pressures"

An NGO networks has demanded that the government and all relevant authorities "immediately stop the pressure on individuals, organizations and institutions."

Source: B92

The House of Human Rights and Democracy has stated that after the floods in Serbia the Criminal Code was being implemented "selectively" and that there was "no official reaction to the censorship of the media."

"After the announcement of Prime Minister Vučić that the prosecution would examine the spreading of panic, express reaction of the judicial authorities followed, after which detention of three people was proposed. No investigation was conducted against the tabloids which for days ran headlines such as, 'Corpses floating in Obrenovac,' or against the prime minister who dramatically called on volunteers to defend Šabac, and publicly told the chief of the (army) staff 'if Šabac falls, you know what to do," but against persons who published on their social networks profiles what they heard or learned," the NGO statement said.

The group believes that such conduct constitutes an impermissible selective enforcement of the Criminal Code "and in a situation where the public has not been presented with where panic was created and where the state authorities were unable to do their job because of it - which is a condition for the existence of this criminal act."

The statement added that "instead of reacting to media censorship and the removal of content critical of the work of the Serbian government, the prime minister took part in an RTS program and accused the OSCE of taking part in an international conspiracy to replace him, because Serbia did not impose sanctions against Russia."

Also, the NGO group made a connection between the warning of Ombudsman Saša Janković about censorship and the decision not to discuss contract extensions for 19 employees who work for his office.

"In this way, legislative and executive powers use indirect methods of pressure and directly threaten the independence of the ombudsman, by which they undermine the rule of law in Serbia," the statement said.

It adds that the smooth work of the ombudsman is necessary "particularly when a large number of Serbian citizens are threatened and the most vulnerable are, naturally, members of marginalized groups such as Roma, persons with disabilities and refugees."

The House of Human Rights and Democracy includes Civic Initiatives, the Belgrade Center for Human Rights, the Committee of Lawyers for Human Rights - YUCOM, the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, and the Center for Practical Politics.


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