Human Rights House once again warns the public about the dangers of Vojislav Seselj’s political actions and ongoing disturbing rhetoric about the 1990s, which recently resulted in a physical attack against civil society activists. Activists who have protested the convicted war criminal’s promotion of his book denying the Srebrenica genocide must be protected from physical attacks. Their protests are especially important as they are objecting to the illicit use of public resources to promote war criminals.
We wish to remind the public that The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals sentenced Vojislav Seselj to 10 years in prison for inciting and supporting war crimes in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia. Despite this ruling, the competent national assembly committee permitted Vojislav Seselj to illegally retain his parliamentary term and continue to spread the malicious ideas that led to the bloody wars of the 1990s, without fear of bearing any responsibility for the words he spoke in public. The violations of the fundamental freedoms and rights of journalists, activists and human rights defenders could have been prevented if the competent authorities reacted in a timely manner in accordance with the law. It is incomprehensible that public space, financed by Serbian citizens’ money, is being used for the promotion of ideas challenging the Srebrenica genocide. The genocide has been undeniably confirmed in the decisions of international courts.
If Serbia wants to more closely align its values to European values and obtain membership in the European Union, the protection of human rights defenders must be guaranteed in law and in practice. The constant implicit approval, support and promotion of war crimes by public authorities must become a thing of the past.
We urge the competent Public Prosecutor’s Office to investigate without delay whether any crimes have been committed in relation to this event. We also urge all public authorities to deny the use of public spaces for spreading ideas that promote stereotypes about war crime victims.
The Human Rights House is comprised of:
Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights – YUCOM
Belgrade Centre for Human Rights
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia