Round Table “Combating racial discrimination and intolerance in Serbia”
Belgrade, 16 November 2011
Organised by: the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) of the Council of Europe, in co-operation with the Protector of Citizens (National Ombudsman) and the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality of Serbia.
Participants discussed the follow-up given to the recommendations contained in ECRI’s 2011 report on Serbia concerning a number of themes divided into four sessions:
- the general situation in Serbia as reflected in ECRI’s report;
- legislative and institutional framework for combating racial discrimination;
- religious freedom;
- integration of Roma.
The event was opened by Milan Marković, Minister for Human and Minority Rights, Public Administration and Local Self Government, and Winnie Sorgdrager, member of ECRI. Opening speeches were given by Saša Janković, National Ombudsman, and Nevena Petrušić, Commissioner for the Protection of Equality. Gun Kut, member of ECRI, presented ECRI’s last report on Serbia. In addition to representatives of the authorities, the round table brought together the Parliament, the justice system and academia, representatives of international organisations and of the Roma communities, as well as NGOs and religious representatives.
In its second report on Serbia of May 2011, ECRI expressed its concern about some issues, for example the Law on Churches and Religious Communities and courts’ practice relating to racist crime. ECRI made also a certain number of recommendations to the Serbian authorities, among which the following three will be revisited in 2013:
- strengthen the institution of the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality by ensuring that it has the human and financial resources to function effectively;
- strengthen the training provided to the judiciary on racism and racial discrimination, inter alia, to ensure better sentencing practices for racist crime;
- take immediate measures to ensure that all Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians have identity documents.