(Washington, DC) – US Vice President Joe Biden should urge Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucić to take concrete steps to advance human rights protection, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to Biden released today. Biden and Vucić will meet this week in Washington, DC.

“The US administration should call Belgrade out on its poor human rights record and push it to meet its international human rights obligations,” said Lydia Gall, Balkans and Eastern Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. “That means pushing for concrete steps to end impunity for war crimes, investigate and prosecute ill-treatment of migrants and asylum seekers, beef up investigations and prosecutions into crimes against journalists, and tackle discrimination against Roma.”

Human Rights Watch said Biden should press Vucić to:

  • Promptly speed up war crimes investigations and prosecutions stemming from the wars in former Yugoslavia, particularly against higher-ranking military and police officials who may bear command responsibility;
  • Promptly and thoroughly investigate the 1999 transfer of bodies of hundreds of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo to Serbia in an attempt to cover-up massacres of civilians and prosecute those responsible;
  • Immediately investigate allegations of police abuse against asylum seekers and migrants and hold those responsible to account;
  • Conduct prompt, effective, impartial, and thorough investigations into all attacks and threats against journalists and media outlets, including cybercrimes, and prosecute as appropriate; and
  • Ensure that everyone in Serbia, regardless of ethnicity, age, or employment status, can access public services, including health care and education.

“Rights protection in Serbia is progressing at a snail’s pace,” Gall said. “The US administration should make it clear to Belgrade that continued good relations between the two countries also depends on measurable improvements of Serbia’s rights record.”