Youth Initiative Awarded for Work Against Discrimination

Civil Rights Defenders’ partner Youth Initiative for Human Rights was one of the recipients of the Annual Award for fighting discrimination, handed out by the Coalition Against Discrimination in Serbia. Simultaneously the Coalition Against Discrimination presented its seventh annual report, Discrimination in Serbia 2012.

According to the report, the number of cases of discrimination and discriminatory treatment of members of national minorities and persons with disabilities is increasing. Forced evictions of Roma communities in Block 72 and Belville (in Belgrade) are two examples. In some cases alternative accommodation was not provided. Roma people face discrimination in the educational process, but also when claiming their right to personal documents. Hate speech is present, and probably one of the most severe cases is that involving the Mayor of Belgrade Dragan Djilas. Persons with disabilities still face architectural barriers and sometimes are denied access to public spaces.

The LGBT population faces threats from neo-Nazi groups, negative statements from representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church and politicians, and a lack of political will to guarantee their rights.
The decision by the Ministry of Interior to ban the Pride Parade for the third time in 2012 is a clear violation of the right to freedom of assembly and association guaranteed by Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. These events altogether create an atmosphere of fear and a higher visibility of right-wing elements in the society. The LGBT population’s trust in public institutions is decreasing.

“The authorities are not efficient in their work against discrimination. The cases presented in the report remind us that there is much more work to be done. Annual awards like this should serve as an incentive for others in their fight against discrimination on a daily basis,” said Goran Miletic, programme director for the Western Balkans.

The Coalition against Discrimination consists of Civil Rights Defenders, the Centre for Advanced Legal Studies (founding organisations), Labris – Organisation for Lesbian Human Rights, Network of Committees for Human Rights in Serbia, the Association of Students with Disabilities, Gayten LGBT, Praxis and Regional Centre for Minorities.