Investigations continued into the alleged post-war abduction and torture of Serbs by the Kosova Liberation Army at the Yellow House near Burrel in Albania.
Torture and other ill-treatment
In January the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture reported on its November 2007 visit to places of detention in Serbia. There were fewer allegations than on previous visits but ill-treatment, including disproportionate force on arrest, continued.
The UN Committee against Torture (CAT) in July found that Besim Osmani was in June 2000 subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment during the forced eviction of a settlement in Belgrade. The CAT noted that the infliction of physical and mental suffering [was] aggravated by his Roma ethnic origin a minority historically subjected to discrimination and prejudice. The authorities had failed to open an investigation, denying Besim Osmani the rights to have his case promptly and impartially investigated and to receive compensation.
The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture reported severe overcrowding and "dilapidated" detention conditions, especially in Belgrade District Prison. Prisoners were reportedly ill-treated in the Po?arevac-Zabela Correctional Institution, abuse that was apparently concealed by alteration of the register of "coercive means". Psychiatric patients were hit with truncheons in Belgrade Special Prison hospital. The Committee expressed concerns about the quality of prisoners' medical records.
According to a local NGO, in January lawyers for detainee N.N. were refused access to his medical records. N.N. had alleged that his arm was broken in 2008 by prison guards at Niš Correctional Centre. In November, 12 security staff were arrested on suspicion of abusing and torturing detainees at Leskovac District Prison in January.
Amendments to the Law on Execution of Penal Sanctions adopted in August improved the internal complaints system. A by-law on internal oversight was not adopted, nor had a National Protection Mechanism required under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture been established by the end of the year.
Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
In March an Anti-Discrimination Law was adopted. It had earlier been withdrawn under pressure from the Serbian Orthodox Church and other religious institutions. They objected to articles guaranteeing freedom of religion and the right to non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. In September the Belgrade Pride march did not take place, after the authorities at the last moment refused to provide security on the agreed route, because of threats from right-wing groups.
Discrimination - Roma
In June the Council of Europe Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities recommended that the judicial system address discrimination against minorities more efficiently, and that action be taken to issue identification documents and to tackle discrimination against Roma in education, employment, health and housing.
In June G.H., an internally displaced person from Kosovo, was reportedly attacked by 10 unknown individuals in Belgrade. G.H. was taken to hospital with pulmonary damage, but later discharged himself. Without identity documents he was not eligible for medical care, nor would the police investigate his case. Three attacks on the same community were reported in July. No one was brought to justice.
The inhabitants of several unlawful Romani settlements were forcibly evicted.