Concerning the taking into custody of Belgzim Kamberi, the Chairman of the Human Rights Board in Bujanovac, we’d like to make an appeal to the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office in Vranje for an immediate termination of the procedure and criminal prosecution of the citizens who point out the violation of human rights and discrimination.
The Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office in Vranje commenced the proceedings against Belgzim Kamberi after he had set up a billboard with the stylized degree of Mr Milan Marković, the Minister of Human and Minority Rights, Public Administration and Local Self-government. The billboard was set up during the protests against the non-recognition of the degrees issued by the University of Prishtina and the mark “failed“ that Minister Marković earned in the fictitious subject “human and minority rights“ was written on it.
The billboard also said that at the School of Law of the Belgrade University 5 October student Milan Marković earned “a 10 in the non-recognition of human rights of the citizens of Preševo, Bujanovac i Medveđa“. Because of this billboard, the proceedings were initiated for the criminal offence of “tainting someone’s reputation on the basis of racial, religious, national, or other affiliation“ for which the law prescribes the prison sentence of up to one year.
More than five months after the installation and removal of the mentioned billboard, on 31 May 2011, the police served the Chairman of the Human Rights Board a notice summoning him as a suspect for questioning and demanded that he accompany them and instantly come to the police station for questioning. At the police station, Belgzim Kamberi was questioned about the details of the installation of the mentioned billboard and was then released.
Even though Minister Milan Marković underlined in the statement sent to the Public Prosecutor’s Office and in a written release made to the media after Belgzim Kamberi had been taken into custody that he was not offended by the sentence on the billboard and that he did not want the proceedings to be conducted, we’d like to request that the Public Prosecutor’s Office and other public bodies terminate legal proceedings and other kinds of putting pressure on the citizens who indiciate the violation of human rights (in this case, the discrimination) by exercising their fundamental human right – the freedom of expression.
We hereby demand that the responsibility of the Public Prosecutor’s Office and others who enabled this proceedings should be established, since the contents of the billboard message clearly indicate that no criminal act or minor offence has been committed. The fact that the Chairman of the Human Rights Board in Bujanovac was taken into custody violates the prohibition of criminal prosecuting (victimization) prescribed in Article 9 of the Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination, as well as other national and international standards in the field of human rights.
We expect a quick and adequate reaction from the Public Prosecutor’s Office when acts of violance and discriminations are committed against Serbian citizens on the basis of their personal characteristics and we expect them to cooperate with human rights defenders in such cases, instead of conducting proceedings against them for their pointing out the cases of discrimination.
The Statement is signed by:
1. Members of the Coalition against Discrimination:
Center for Advanced Legal Studies
Civil Rights Defenders
Labris – organization for lesbian human rights
Network of Committees for Human Rights (CHRIS network)
Association of Students with Disabilities
Regional Centre for Minorities
2. YUCOM – Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights
3. Youth Initiative for Human Rights
4. Humanitarian Law Center
5. Center for Cultural Decontamination
6. Women in Black