State Department warns of corruption and violence in Serbia

NEWS 13.03.2019 22:50
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The State Department warned in its annual human rights report that corruption was still present at government level in Serbia as well as violence against journalists and members of the LGBT community.

The report, presented by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said that the government has taken steps to try officials and police personnel involved in human rights violations but added that observers believe that a large number of cases of corruption, social and domestic violence and others have not been reported and have gone unpunished.

The wide-spread view in Serbia is that laws are not implemented consistently and that some officials involved in corruption have gone unpunished.

The report said that no significant progress had been made in bringing to justice the killers of the Kosovo Albanian Bytyqi brothers (US citizens killed after being held in prison in Serbia at the end of the Kosovo war).

It said that problems in the media sphere include a lack of transparency of ownership and government involvement in certain media as well as threats and attacks on journalists. According to independent observers cited in the report, 2017 was one of the worst years in terms of freedom of the media in Serbia and that trend continued in 2018. The report warned that pressure on the media by the authorities is growing through the control of advertising income and budget allocations.

It said that courts are still affected by corruption and political influence and that Serbia has no functional system of pro bono legal aid for people who can’t afford lawyers. There have been cases of the police beating or harassing suspects to get confessions, the report said and added that the country’s jails are not overcrowded and do not meet international standards.