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To the Government of Serbia:

  • Officials at the highest levels should publicly and unequivocally condemn all instances of ethnic violence and other offenses against minorities;

  • Disciplinary or legal action as appropriate should be taken against officials who incite, encourage, or support ethnically motivated violence;

  • To ensure the impartiality of police investigations, officials should not reject ethnic motivation behind incidents before a full investigation of an alleged offense is completed.

  • Serbia should consider legislation that would allow for the imposition of greater sentences for ethnically aggravated forms of offenses against the person, property, public order, and similar offenses. The ethnically aggravated form of an offense would apply where there is evidence of either a) clear ethnic motivation on the part of the perpetrator in the commission of the offense or b) the demonstration of hostility during the commission of the offense based on, among other grounds, the victim’s membership (or presumed membership) of an ethnic, religious, or racial group.

  • Legislation allowing for harsher punishment for ethnically aggravated forms of offenses should prescribe higher maximums for hate crimes than for the similar crimes in which the underlying acts are unrelated to victim’s ethnicity, race and religion; 

  • The Serbian Ministry of Justice should monitor the application in the courts of any new provisions penalizing ethnically aggravated forms of offenses, as well as article 134 of the Basic Penal Code (incitement to ethnic, racial and religious hatred), to ensure that any prosecutions brought under those provisions are fully consistent with international fair trial standards and human rights law.

    The Role of the Police

  • The police force should take all appropriate preventive measures to protect minority communities from attacks and not rely solely on stopping violence already underway;

  • The police should investigate thoroughly all reports and incidents of ethnic violence and refrain from making public statements that minimize their significance;

  • The government of Serbia should intensify efforts to ensure greater participation of minorities in the police in Vojvodina.

    To the Local Government in Novi Sad

  • Fulfill the promise of the Novi Sad government last year to reimburse property owners whose property was damaged in the March 2004 violence.

    To the European Union:

  • Include the Serbian government’s success in preventing and holding accountable persons responsible for ethnically motivated crimes in Vojvodina and other parts of Serbia as a benchmark in the Stabilisation and Association process;

  • Make clear public statements that a multi-ethnic Vojvodina and Serbia in which the rights of all inhabitants are respected is one of the principal objectives of the international community in the territory of former Yugoslavia.

    To the Council of Europe:

  • Press the government of Serbia to uphold the standards from the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, to which Serbia and Montenegro has acceded;

  • Strengthen the focus of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly monitoring procedure on Serbia and Montenegro on improvement of the functioning of the judiciary in relation to ethnically motivated crimes;

  • The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance should carry out a country visit to Serbia and Montenegro and make violence against minorities a special focus of their work.

    To the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE):

  • The Democratization Unit of the OSCE Mission in Serbia and Montenegro should include monitoring of trials of ethnically motivated crimes in its portfolio;

  • The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities should carry out a follow-up visit to Serbia and Montenegro to assess the progress achieved in protecting national minorities, with a particular focus on the government’s response to the incidents of ethnic violence in 2004 and 2005.

    <<previous  |  index  |  next>>October 2005