Media freedom, LGBTI, disabled rights, still lagging behind in Serbia – report

Journalists in Serbia who criticise the government are still exposed to harassment, threats, violence and intimidation, and the rights of the LGBTI and disabled persons must improve significantly,  Human Rights Watch (HRW) assessed. [Shutterstock / BalkansCat]

Journalists in Serbia who criticise the government are still exposed to harassment, threats, violence and intimidation, and the rights of the LGBTI and disabled persons must improve significantly,  Human Rights Watch (HRW) assessed in its 13 January report about the state of human rights in the world.

The section about Serbia in the new annual report state that during 2021 journalists continued to face threats with a poor state response.

HRW also stated that pro-government media in Serbia had continued their slander campaigns against independent journalists and media.

In the chapter about Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, the report says that “LGBT people continued to be subjected to attacks and threats with impunity” and that “a law change first promised in December 2020 to allow same-sex couples enter into civil partnerships failed to progress during the year”.

HRW also concluded that little progress had been accomplished in providing an independent life in the community to persons with disabilities.

“Children with disabilities continue to be overrepresented in institutional settings (73.9% of children in institutions have disabilities) and lack access to inclusive education. The government has yet to adopt a time-bound deinstitutionalisation strategy to move people with disabilities out of institutions and ensure independent living in the community”, HRW says.

As for accountability for War Crimes, the report says that most investigations or processed war crimes cases in Serbia involved low-ranking perpetrators.

Regarding the status of migrants asylum seekers and refugees, the report states that Serbia’s “asylum system remained flawed, with difficulties for asylum seekers accessing procedures, low recognition rates, and long delays”, and that Serbia “still lacks formal age assessment procedures for unaccompanied children, putting older children at risk of being treated as adults instead of receiving special protection”.

(EURACTIV.rs | betabriefing.com)

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