CoE report calls Belgrade to counter glorification of war criminals


Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic called the Serbian authorities to counter the public glorification of war criminals, and denial of war crimes.

“The Commissioner calls on Serbia to counter the widespread public glorification of war criminals, denial and relativisation of war crimes and genocide and to stop giving a public platform to war criminals and war crimes suspects to spread a narrative of denial,” a press release following the publication of her report said.

Mijatovic’s report also called Belgrade to step up the prosecution of wartime crimes; address persistent shortcomings in the witness protection system; improve international and regional judicial co-operation and provide all victims of wartime crimes with access to prompt, adequate and effective reparation in line with established international standards.

“The Commissioner urges Serbia to take all necessary steps to enable the effective and ongoing search for missing persons, including by opening its military archives and enhancing its co-operation with neighbouring countries,” the report on her March 2023 visit to Serbia said.

She underscores that Serbia’s approach to the memorialisation of the past should be inclusive and critical, while history teaching should reflect multiple perspectives, condemn all atrocities, and promote tolerance and openness.

The report said that the safety of journalists remains a serious human rights concern in Serbia. “All crimes committed against journalists should be promptly and effectively investigated and the perpetrators should be appropriately punished, while Serbian public officials must refrain from discourse that encourages attacks, vilification, or smear campaigns against journalists and emboldens the perpetrators,” the report said.

It called the authorities to counter the widespread use of strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) against journalists, human rights defenders and activists.

“Seriously concerned about the prevalence of all forms of violence against women in Serbia, the Commissioner urges the authorities to address this phenomenon by bringing the existing legislation fully in line with the relevant standards and stepping up its implementation,” Mijatovic said.