The Belgrade UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that Serbia has still not passed on its findings on the claims of inhumane working conditions made by Vietnamese nationals at the Linglong construction site in Zrenjanin.
Serbia’s reply should offer an explanation as to what really happened, what the state bodies established, whether anyone was sanctioned and what Serbia intends to do to prevent this from happening in future, Milan Markovic of the UNHCHR Belgrade office told Insider TV, adding that China and Vietnam have sent their reports.
The claims are contained in a report that NGO Astra and the A11 Initiative submitted to the OHCHR in Geneva, following which the UN asked Serbia, China and Vietnam to investigate the Vietnamese workers’ claims.
Markovic said the primary obligation to protect human rights falls on the state and its institutions. “The state cannot transfer this responsibility and obligation to anyone,” said Markovic, adding that NGOs that warn of possible human rights violations certainly play a role, and that the UN is there to back the government and the non-government actors in their activities aimed at promoting human rights.
The Chinese company Linglong hired this spring some 400 Vietnamese nationals to work on the construction of its tire factory in Serbia. The workers complained about the accommodation, inhumane working conditions, lack of heating, food and drinking water, poor health care, restricted movement and said their passports were seized.