Annual Report: Serbia 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Serbia 2013

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  • Around 1,000 Roma were forcibly evicted in April from the Belvil settlement by the Belgrade City authorities. Almost half were returned to southern Serbia; many were made homeless. Some Roma returned to Niš had no running water or adequate sanitation until mid-July. Those registered in Belgrade were sent to segregated container settlements on the city's outskirts where they could not find work. The European Commission agreed to fund solid housing for evicted Roma, but the city proposed that the housing be sited on isolated sites, creating racially segregated settlements. In November the Commissioner for Protection of Equality found that the Belgrade City authorities had discriminated against Roma by imposing rules and conditions in their contracts for the containers which were not applied to any other groups, and which resulted in the eviction of 11 families.

Legislative amendments adopted in September potentially reduced discrimination by assisting “legally invisible” people, predominantly Roma, to obtain birth certificates, enabling them to acquire identity documents.

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people

In September, a gay man was beaten with a meat-hammer by youths in a homophobic attack in Belgrade. In October, the Prime Minister banned the Belgrade Pride for the second year running on the basis of unspecified security threats. In November, the Appeal Court revoked the conviction and ordered the retrial of Mladen Obradović, leader of the right-wing organization “Obraz”, who had been sentenced in March to 10 months' imprisonment for inciting discrimination against the 2009 Belgrade Pride.

Refugees and migrants

The government took further measures to intensify border controls which denied people, predominantly Roma, the right to leave the country. Between January and October, 15,135 Serbian citizens, mostly Roma, claimed asylum in the EU. In October, six EU member states urged the European Council to consider measures to reduce their number. Austria and Switzerland introduced an accelerated determination procedure for Serbian asylum-seekers.

More than 1,700 individuals, including unaccompanied minors, sought asylum in Serbia. None was granted asylum in a process that failed to provide a fair assessment of individual protection needs. In September, more than 100 asylum-seekers camped outside the Bogovađa asylum centre in the absence of any other accommodation.

Kosovo

In January, the European Commission launched a visa liberalization dialogue with Kosovo. In September, the International Steering Group declared the end of Kosovo's supervised independence. The European Council in December called for progress on the rule of law, minority protection, freedom of expression and co-operation with EU-led Police and Justice mission (EULEX).

In June, the mandate of a downsized EULEX was extended to 2014. EULEX retained responsibility for the investigation and prosecution of crimes under international law, organized crime and corruption; and witness protection.

The situation in the north

Both EULEX and the Kosovo authorities continued to assert their authority in the three predominantly Serbian northern municipalities. Armed attacks by Serbs opposed to the Kosovo government's authority over the Serb majority municipalities took place in Mitrovica/Mitrovicë when the Kosovo government opened municipal offices in July.

At the border posts, established in 2011 by the Kosovo authorities and controlled by EULEX and the Kosovo Force (KFOR), there were almost daily violent incidents, as Kosovo Serbs continued to protest against the control of the border with Serbia. KFOR personnel and civilians, mostly Kosovo Serbs, were wounded, and at least one Kosovo Police officer was fatally injured, in the repeated clashes. Border crossings, negotiated between Kosovo and Serbia under the Integrated Border Management agreement, opened in December.