Assault on human rights defender in Serbia

HE Boris Tadic, President of the Republic of Serbia
HE Mirko Cvetkovic, Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia
HE Ivica Dacic, Minister of Interior

Stockholm, 23 December 2010

Dear Sirs,

Civil Rights Defenders is deeply concerned about the latest attacks on human rights defenders in Serbia, as well as the failure to arrest and bring to justice attackers on journalists, artists, and others who express different opinions on issues facing Serbia today. The latest attack on Branko Živkovi?, Public Relations Officer at Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, must be properly investigated without any delay.

On the evening of 16 December 2010, Branko Zivkovic was assaulted while walking his dog. An unidentified person brutally attacked him from the back and hurt him in his head. Hit in his head, Zivkovic now suffers from amnesia and cannot recall what happened before or immediately after the incident.
This is the second time that Zivkovic was assaulted. A month ago he was attacked both verbally and physically. The incident was reported to the police, which tracked down and arrested the assaulter, and forwarded the case to the Public Prosecutor office. Threats and insults to which Mr. Zivkovic has been exposed for some time indicate that there is a link between his reports on delicate social issues, such as Sandzak, and the attacks.

Harassment of Branko Zivkovic and assaults against him make out serious pressure on human rights defenders and the freedom of expression in general. Freedom of expression and unobstructed work of human rights defenders and organisations are some of the basic preconditions for any democratic society. The failure to protect these rights and freedoms in a proper way is in clear breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, to which Serbia is a state party.

We respectfully request that you exercise all your authority and use all mechanisms available to adequately protect human rights defenders and freedom of expression in the future. This should include offering unequivocal support to those who work to protect human rights. In the case of Mr Zivkovic, this must be proven through fast investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Hårdh
Executive Director of Civil Rights Defenders

Categories: Statements.
Tags: Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, Human Rights Defenders, and Violence against journalists.
Regions: Serbia.