|Monday, 6 April 2020|
SERBIA/MONTENEGRO HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993
AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE: JANUARY 31, 1994
Serbia and Montenegro, two of the constituent republics of the former Yugoslavia, proclaimed the establishment of the "Federal Republic of Yugoslavia" in 1992. The United Nations and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), as well as the international community, rejected the "FRY's" claim to be the sole successor to the former Yugoslavia and suspended Yugoslav participation in their organizations.
Serbia/Montenegro's formal federal governmental structure is subsumed under an authoritarian state apparatus controlled by Slobodan Milosevic, reelected for a second 5-year term as President of the Serbian Republic in a December 1992 election that was judged by CSCE observers to have been neither free nor fair. He dominates the political scene through his Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), which holds the key administrative positions in both the Federal and Serbian Governments, and has generally succeeded in circumscribing Montenegrin autonomy. Serbia has two provinces--Kosovo and Vojvodina--but their political autonomy was abolished in 1990, and all significant decisionmaking authority is centralized in Belgrade.
Because of Serbian responsibility in instigating and propagating violence on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including human rights abuses on a massive scale, the United Nations imposed sweeping economic and political sanctions in 1992 and tightened them in 1993. Despite claims to the contrary, the Belgrade regime sustained military, economic, and political support for ethnic Serbs responsible for massive human rights abuses and acts of genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992-93 and similarly aided Croatian Serbs occupying nearly a third of Croatian territory.
Milosevic also wields absolute control over the Serbian police, a heavily armed force of some 70,000-80,000 which is guilty of extensive, brutal, and systematic human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killing. It continued a pattern of gross human rights violations and systematic repression of ethnic Albanians in the Kosovo region.
The economy, already under serious strain due to the cost of proxy wars in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina and the breakup of Yugoslavia, deteriorated markedly in 1993 under the impact of
* The United States does not recognize the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
U.N. sanctions. The massive printing of money to keep the economy afloat resulted in hyperinflation of historic proportions. By year's end, many goods, including food staples, had disappeared from stores and were available only on the black market for foreign currency.
Human rights violations increased in Serbia during 1993, but Montenegro's human rights record was not as poor. Ethnic minorities continued to suffer most. Systematic police repression in Kosovo, where some 90 percent of the population are ethnic Albanians, included killing suspects allegedly while they were fleeing or resisting arrest, beating detainees and prisoners to death, arbitrary arrests, and widespread harassment. Paramilitary attacks and threats tolerated by the Belgrade regime resulted in the murder and dislocation of many Muslims in the Sandzak region. Selective intimidation by police and others of members of the Croatian and Hungarian minorities in multiethnic Vojvodina spurred the emigration of non-Serbs. This situation worsened after Belgrade authorities, over Montenegrin objections, expelled CSCE human rights monitoring missions at the end of July, despite a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for the missions' continuation.
The police also used heavy-handed violence against Serbian opponents of the regime. During a spontaneous protest in Belgrade in June, police arrested and maltreated several dozen people, including opposition leaders Vuk and Danica Draskovic who were both severely beaten while in police custody. More than a dozen Kosovar Albanians died at the hands of police, either while allegedly resisting arrest or in custody. Police responsible for abuses are rarely prosecuted. However, two Serbian police officers in Prizren were sentenced to short prison terms in December for the beating death of Aif Krasniqui, a Kosovar Albanian, while in police custody.
Freedom of the press is greatly circumscribed. One Serbian journalist was briefly kidnaped by unknown individuals, thought to be agents of the Government. Belgrade authorities refused to renew the accreditation of two long-time foreign journalists, without official explanation. The police sometimes interfere with peaceful assembly and travel and regularly enter homes and offices without warrants. They monitor and harass opposition leaders and dissidents.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial KillingPolitical violence in Serbia/Montenegro, including killings, resulted mostly from direct and indirect efforts by Serbian authorities to suppress and intimidate ethnic minority groups. Leaders of minority communities in the Sandzak, Vojvodina, and Kosovo reported numerous acts of violence and intimidation, the express aim of which was to disrupt and terrorize non-Serbs and Muslims to the point that they would flee their homes and the ultimate objective of "ethnic cleansing" would be achieved.
During the war in Croatia, Yugoslav army (JNA) soldiers and Serbian paramilitary forces were stationed throughout neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina. When sporadic outbursts of violence there escalated into full-scale war in April 1992, as Serbian nationalists attempted to establish an independent state within Bosnia and Herzegovina, the JNA armed Bosnian Serb irregulars and fought on behalf of Serbian forces until its nominal withdrawal in mid-May. At that time, federal and republic authorities claimed that the personnel of the JNA in Bosnia, 80 percent of whom were Bosnian Serbs, were free to remain in Bosnia and Herzegovina to fight. Approximately 80,000 "volunteers" who "left" the JNA formed the core of the newly formed Serbian army of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The federal and Serbian authorities continued to provide fuel and other materiel support to that army.
Violence was most severe in the Muslim-populated region of Sandzak and the Albanian-populated region of Kosovo. Paramilitary groups regularly crossed the border from Bosnia-Herzegovina into Serbia and Montenegro to attack local Muslims without opposition from units of "FRY" army reservists stationed in border villages. During these raids, paramilitary forces beat to death at least five elderly Muslims. The Humanitarian Law Fund, a Serbian human rights organization, charged in a February report that "FRY" reservists intentionally allowed groups of armed Bosnian Serbs onto the territory of the State of Serbia and did not prevent the mistreatment and abuse of its non-Serb residents.
In Kosovo at least 15 ethnic Albanians died at the hands of police during 1993, of which 7 took place after the CSCE monitoring missions left the area in late July. In most cases, the authorities claimed that those killed were shot while fleeing or resisting arrest. Police, however, appear to have resorted to deadly force with little or no attempt to apprehend the alleged suspects by other means. During a raid on the market in Pristina, police arrested two brothers, shooting both of them as they broke away, and one died instantly. In late August, during a raid on a house in the village of Cernille, also in Kosovo, police waiting to question two brothers shot and killed their 16-year-old brother as he and his two older brothers tried to run away.
In other cases, persons died while in police custody as the result of torture and other mistreatment. In February police arrested, imprisoned, and subsequently beat to death Adem Sequiri, an ethnic Albanian from Djakovica, Kosovo. The official report of death cited blows all over his body as the cause of death. In August Arif Krasniqi, an ethnic Albanian, died at the police station in Prizren 24 hours after his arrest. His body showed clear signs of torture to his head, feet, and genitals. Two policemen were charged in Krasniqui's death and sentenced to 3-year prison terms. The convictions represented an exception to the general rule of official denial and failure to investigate police abuses.
In a series of incidents along the Serbian-Albanian border, Serbian border guards were responsible for the death of 14 Albanian citizens in Albania. Serbian authorities defended their behavior, claiming that those killed were on the Serbian side of the border and had crossed it illegally, possibly for acts of terrorism. Smuggling is rife in the area, but the authorities appear to have used deadly force with little effort to apprehend the suspected border violators. In an effort to excuse the killings following one incident, a senior Serbian official said that the Serbian border guards involved were inexperienced.
The Yugoslav Democratic Party of Gypsies complained that police had harassed and beaten Gypsies in the village of Strazilo, resulting in one death.
b. DisappearanceBosnian Serb paramilitary forces operating with impunity in Serbia/Montenegro were responsible for disappearances in the Sandzak region. In one case, paramilitary forces abducted at least 19, and possibly 24, Muslims from a Serbian train when it was forced to stop while in a Serb-controlled area of Bosnia-Herzegovina en route from Belgrade to Montenegro. Despite a meeting between Milosevic and families of the disappeared, no progress was made in finding the men. Police held Milan Lukic, a Serb paramilitary leader in Bosnia, for 2 days in Serbia in connection with the disappearances but released him after his troops threatened to blow up the Belgrade-to-Bar railway. The paramilitary forces are presumed to have murdered the Muslims, although their bodies have not been found.
In February Bosnian Serb soldiers entered the predominantly Muslim village of Seliste (Montenegro) and took away two women, a 16-year-old youth, and two small children, returning the following night for more members of the same family. Six of those taken, all over 60, were released after 3 weeks. According to some reports, Bosnian Serbs continued to hold the others, including a mother and two children under 5 years of age, in Cajnice, Serb-held Bosnia. Those released described their treatment as brutal.
In April two Muslims, Hasan Mujovic and Mustafa Pulinac, who had abandoned their homes in Sjeverin (Serbia) following the kidnaping of some of its residents from a bus passing through Bosnian Serb-controlled territory in 1992, returned to check on their property. Four masked men attacked Pulinac, but he escaped into the woods when Mujovic ran to his aid. Mujovic has not been seen since. Bosnian Serb officials in nearby Rudo reportedly had information as to his whereabouts but stated they were not responsible for the safety of citizens of another country.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or PunishmentFederal law prohibits torture, but reports that police in Serbia severely beat people, whether under detention or at police checkpoints, numbered in the thousands. Police routinely used violence indiscriminately against ethnic Albanians, justifying such repression as necessary to quell Kosovar Albanian demands for independence. While overt police violence against Serbian opponents of the regime was comparatively rare, some cases occurred.
In a highly publicized instance, police violence was directed against Vuk Draskovic, leader of a major Serbian opposition party, and Danica Draskovic, a member of the party's executive committee. Police arrested them at their party headquarters following a demonstration during which violence broke out in front of the Federal Parliament building on June 1. Police severely beat them while dragging them from the party headquarters to police vans, where at least 10 policemen subjected them to further beatings. During the initial 20 days of their detention, the Serbian Ministry of Justice denied that the couple had any serious health problems. After a panel of medical experts examined them, however, Serbian authorities felt obliged to transfer them to a special clinic because of the severity of their injuries. Mounting international pressure and domestic support for a hunger strike by Vuk Draskovic led President Milosevic to pardon the couple on July 9.
Police brutality contributed to and exacerbated the violence which erupted at the June 1 rally that provided the excuse for the Draskovics' arrest. Police conducted sweeps, detaining some 30 opposition party members and 5 journalists; eyewitness reports confirmed that police clubbed and detained innocent bystanders, including journalists who identified themselves to the police. One policeman died, and several others were injured as a result of the fracas.
Police also badly beat a Serbian woman in Belgrade in October when she protested economic conditions while waiting in a ration line for flour. The middle-aged woman was shown on television with severe bruises on her face. The Serbian Minister of the Interior later apologized to the Serbian parliament and said the policemen who had beaten the woman were suspended and under investigation. An opposition party called for the Minister's resignation, citing a growing pattern of police brutality and disregard for the law.
In Kosovo indiscriminate beatings of ethnic Albanians took place routinely, with a marked increase following the expulsion of the CSCE missions in July. One Albanian human rights group took statements from 804 people beaten by police during a 12-month period. Many times that number were also reportedly beaten but did not register the assaults with human rights groups. Those victimized included professionals associated with Albanian demands for independence, human rights monitors, and people without any discernible political affiliation. In June the principal of a secondary school in Pristina, after being warned against continuing his work in the local Albanian private school system which Serbian authorities considered illegal, was arrested and badly beaten, likely suffering permanent damage to his hearing.
Confident of their impunity and with no fear of reprisal, police brazenly abused and beat their victims in public view. For instance, in late August, during a raid on an ethnic Albanian village near Kamenica, Serbian police, conducting a fruitless search for weapons, allegedly badly beat two brothers in front of their family, causing the pregnant wife of one of them to collapse and miscarry. A few days later, during a raid on the village of Cabra, Kosovo, an 80-year-old woman reportedly collapsed and died after witnessing the beating of her sons. Victims of the raid were interviewed 3 days later, and witnesses saw evidence of severe beatings of several villagers.
Police were exceptionally brutal after several attacks against security forces by unknown assailants. An ethnic Albanian former policeman provided details of torture during investigations into the ambush of Serbian police in Glogovac in May, during which two policemen died. One of several hundred Albanians rounded up after the ambush and taken in for questioning, he described how police beat and threatened some 150 men. A policeman hit a man next to him in the head with such force that it looked as if he would lose an eye. Similar instances of mass arrests and police beatings occurred after other attacks on police (several policemen were wounded but none killed) in Pec and Prizren. No one was charged with the attacks on the police.
The victims themselves, usually through ethnic organizations, provided accounts of police brutality carried out against minority members. Human rights organizations independently confirmed many of these reports. The sheer number of such reports, represented here by illustrative examples, is evidence of pervasive, systematic police brutality.
Most allegations of harsh interrogations and police brutality stem from incidents in police stations rather than in prisons. However, abuses were also known to occur after sentencing. In July prison officials rejected the requests of ethnic Albanian prisoners serving sentences in Nis to be transferred to prisons in Kosovo, placed them in solitary confinement, beat them, and did not allow them parcels or family visits. With the exceptions noted below, conditions in prisons generally meet minimum standards. Prison facilities are for the most part built for that purpose and reasonably maintained.
Prisons are divided into three categories: open, low, and high-risk. Due to the extremely low number of female inmates, lower category facilities for women are not available, and instead all female prisoners are confined in high-risk facilities, with far greater restrictions. Female prisoners have reported that, although they are permitted writing materials, they are not allowed to keep what they write, whereas the men are. Female prisoners are not given any opportunity for further education, though mandated by law, nor are their recreational facilities as well supplied as those of the men. A new draft law to correct this situation was drawn up but not enacted by year's end.
The number of political prisoners in Serbia/Montenegro is unknown. At the end of 1993, there were at least 60 prisoners who had been convicted of political crimes. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was able to visit political prisoners after sentencing but not to gain access to those in pretrial confinement. Numerous Albanian political activists were arrested because of their political activities in support of Kosovo independence and were detained briefly under misdemeanor laws.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or ExileFederal law permits police to detain suspects without a warrant and hold them incommunicado for up to 3 days without charging them or granting them access to a defense attorney. After this period, police must turn a suspect over to an investigating judge, who may order a 30-day extension and, under certain legal procedures, subsequent extensions of investigative detention up to 6 months. During investigative detention, detainees theoretically have access to legal counsel, although in practice access is only occasionally granted.
In May and June, there was a wave of arrests of Muslims in Novi Pazar (Sandzak) for illegal possession of weapons. Many of those arrested had close ties to the Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA), which publicly advocates autonomy for Sandzak through peaceful means. In September, while he was out of the country, a warrant was issued for the arrest of the leader of the SDA, Dr. Ugljanin. The prosecutor later brought formal charges of fomenting rebellion against SDA members. SDA leaders admit that some of those charged may have possessed weapons but point out that Serbian police as a rule have not prosecuted ethnic Serbs for violations of weapons laws, despite the proliferation of arms within the general population and the threatening activities of organized Serbian paramilitary groups.
Police arrested several dozen former political prisoners and activists of Albanian political parties and associations in Kosovo in August and September. Some were later charged with threatening the territorial integrity of Serbia. According to their attorneys, police had severely beaten them all during detention. Police detained Salajdin Braha from Prizren, member of the ethnic Albanian Kosovo parliament, for 5 weeks, repeatedly beat him during this time, and then released him due to lack of evidence.
Exile is neither legally permitted nor routinely practiced. No specific instances of the imposition of exile as a form of judicial punishment are known to have occurred.
e. Denial of Fair Public TrialThe court system comprises local, district, and supreme courts at the republic level, and a Federal Supreme Court to which republic Supreme Court decisions may be appealed. There is also a military court system.
According to the Federal Constitution, the Federal Constitutional Court rules on the constitutionality of laws and regulations, relying on the republic authorities to enforce its rulings. The Federal Criminal Code of the former Yugoslavia still applies.
Under federal law, defendants have the right to be present at their trials and to have an attorney, at public expense if needed. Both the defendant and the prosecutor may appeal the verdict. The judiciary is not free from political influence or ethnic bias, as evidenced by the dismissal of ethnic Albanian judges in Kosovo following their refusal to take an oath of loyalty to Serbia, and judicial handling of charges against the Draskovics. Serbian courts continue to sentence ethnic Albanians, reportedly including some minors, for political actions to terms of from 1 to 20 years.
Sandzak Muslims and ethnic Albanians and Hungarians still avoid military service. Prosecution is rare, but force is sometimes used in mobilizing troops. The draft is sometimes used as a means of harassing opposition figures. In Vojvodina in late December, Sandar Balint, editor in chief of the Hungarian language publication Magyar Szo, was called up for military duty. Balint is in his mid-forties. However, ethnic Serbs in Vojvodina have reportedly been subjected to similar treatment by the military authorities.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or CorrespondenceFederal law gives republic ministries of interior sole control over the decision to monitor potential criminal activities, a power routinely abused. Authorities routinely monitor opposition and dissident activity, eavesdropped on conversations (see Section 2.a. re Dusan Reljic), read mail, and tapped telephones. A Serbian minister boasted in Parliament about the wiretapping of the leader of the main ethnic Hungarian party. Although the law includes restrictions on searches, officials paid scant attention to such restrictions.
In Kosovo, police routinely subjected ethnic Albanians to random searches of their homes, vehicles, and offices on the pretext of searching for weapons.
Police at checkpoints throughout Kosovo, both between localities and within cities and towns, systematically stopped private vehicles and searched them and the passengers with no probable cause. In a round-trip journey of 40 miles, independent observers noted four separate checks of a single vehicle. Police often confiscated foreign currency from drivers and passengers, although it is not illegal to possess foreign currency. Similar confiscations occurred in Sandzak.
Police deliberately timed raids on Albanian private schools in Kosovo to disrupt entrance tests for children to secondary schools. Police subjected all those suspected of any form of involvement with private Albanian schools to searches of their homes and offices and often confiscated personal documents.
g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal ConflictsDespite their denials, the Governments of Serbia/Montenegro and Croatia were deeply involved in the extensive and egregious violations of humanitarian law and abuses of basic human rights in Bosnia committed by Serbian and Croatian paramilitary forces there. The Government of Serbia/Montenegro armed the Serbian forces in both Bosnia and Croatia, its citizens participated in the wars as members of paramilitary formations with government sanction, and it permitted regular troops to remain in Bosnia after May 1992 in the renamed "Serbian army" there. In addition, it continued to supply the Bosnian Serb forces with fuel, food, and other supplies, even while these items were in critically short supply in its own territory. The authorities in Belgrade have not sought to prosecute former regular army personnel for suspected war crime activities in either Croatia or Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Members of ethnic minorities in Serbia were frequently subjected to intimidation, with the goal of provoking the emigration of non-Serbs. The army and the police did not interfere with or try to prevent paramilitary forces and other extreme nationalists from carrying out numerous attacks and harassment against minorities designed to drive them from their homes. In Vojvodina, paramilitary forces associated with such extremist groups as the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) led by Vojislav Seselj openly threatened Croats, Ruthenians, Hungarians, and others and waged a campaign to replace the non-Serbian population with Serbian refugees from Croatia and Bosnia.
In the multiethnic Serbian province of Vojvodina, following the defeat of Prime Minister Panic in the December presidential elections, there was a resurgence of the campaign of harassment against non-Serbs. In Hrtkovci, Vojvodina, the local mayor and his deputy, who had been imprisoned for incitement to violence against non-Serbs, were convicted on May 5 and given suspended prison sentences. Harassment began anew of non-Serbs and of Serbs who defended them, as well as of Serbian refugees from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina who refused to return to fight alongside local Serb paramilitary forces.
Many of these incidents were instigated by SRS chief and paramilitary leader Seselj and his followers. In October Milosevic's ruling party denounced Seselj as a Fascist and a war criminal, guilty of paramilitary attacks and war crimes in Croatia and Bosnia. Serbian authorities recently brought criminal charges against nearly 40 members of Seselj's paramilitary organizations, including accusations of smuggling, racketeering and rape. Although the authorities described the charges as related to war crimes, press reports indicated that only one case was specifically connected to activities in Bosnia. The timing of the charges had a highly political flavor, growing out of Seselj's conflict with Serbian President Milosevic, and do not appear to have been motivated by justice or the rule of law. As of year's end, no legal action had been brought directly against Seselj or his Serbian Radical Party. In December Seselj and Zeljko "Arkan" Raznatovic, a paramilitary leader and a candidate in the elections for the Serbian Parliament, traded accusations of criminal activity on state-run television. The charges included war profiteering and murder.
Officially sanctioned violence and intimidations directed against the Croatian population of Vojvodina, which peaked in the summer of 1992, continued in 1993. Conditions eased in the last months of the year following the arrest of some Seselj supporters directly implicated in these crimes. Early in 1993, Croatian families in the Vojvodina town of Srijemska Kamenica received threatening telephone calls to move out or be killed. These calls were usually followed by visits from men offering property exchanges in Croatia. Fearing for their lives, many families moved out. Local authorities did not intervene and in at least one case actively participated. In July in Kukujevci, Vojvodina, one prominent Croat, his wife, and elderly aunt were found shot dead. He had been warned many times that he should move. Several people, all of them members of the Serbian Radical Party, were arrested and charged with the crime.
Significant numbers of ethnic Hungarians left the Vojvodina due to the prevailing atmosphere of fear, economic collapse, and insecurity. Estimates range as high as 50,000, out of a total Hungarian population of 350,000.
Local Serbian authorities reportedly threatened and intimidated Albanian inhabitants in northern Kosovo into leaving their homes near the town of Leposavic, which is a mostly Serb-inhabited area, according to an international human rights organization.
Ceko Dacevic, a local Radical (SRS) and paramilitary leader, was the main instigator of attacks on Muslims in Montenegro. He enjoyed immunity from prosecution for a time as a member of the Federal Assembly. In late March, members of his group burst into a local restaurant, forcing the owner at gunpoint to remove a picture of former President Tito and ordering him to close down the restaurant, which they said would be converted into an Orthodox church. At the end of August, Serb extremists demolished a Muslim-owned cafe under the eyes of the police, who intervened only when a crowd of Muslims demanded they prevent the rape of the owner's daughter. A week later police arrested a Muslim bystander as well as three of Dacevic's men, who were only briefly detained. Harassment of Muslims in the Montenegrin Sandzak district of Pljevlja lessened following the arrest and trial of Dacevic.
In 1993 more than 800 Bukovica (Sandzak) Muslims were forced to leave their homes and villages following threats from "FRY" army members and the kidnaping of some villagers during a violent attack by the Bosnian Serb army during cross-border sorties. Many claimed they fled to escape "FRY" reservists, putatively stationed in the area to protect them but in practice making no attempt to do so, who in some cases beat and accused them of working for the Bosnian Government of President Izetbegovic. The last three Muslim families in the village of Dekare moved to Pljevlja in April, following a late night incident at the home of one of them when "FRY" army members burst in and questioned them about weapons.
A group of armed civilians opened fire on a Canadian company of the United Nations Protective Force (UNPROFOR) that was stopped at a police checkpoint in Serbia near the Bosnian border. A French soldier with the Canadian company was wounded in the leg. Serbian police were on the scene but did nothing to prevent the shooting or to pursue the attackers. It was noted that SRS leader Seselj was attending an SRS meeting nearby and drove past the UNPROFOR convoy shortly before the shooting, rolling down the window of his car to shout obscenities at the UNPROFOR troops.
On at least one occasion, armored personnel carriers, trucks, and armed troops of the Serbian militia prevented a humanitarian aid convoy from proceeding through Serbia to Srebrenica, Bosnia, claiming that the United Nations did not have permission to use that road.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and PressAlthough freedom of press and speech is provided for under law, this right is not respected in practice. The regime controls frequency allocations for broadcasters and has enormous influence on supplies and revenues for the print media. Although the regime continued to tolerate the critical independent but low-circulation print media of Borba and Vreme in Belgrade, most of the population nationwide is dependent for their news on electronic media firmly under government control. The Government blocked the attempts of independent television station Studio B and independent radio station B-92 to expand transmission of their broadcasts. Republic authorities use provisions of the Federal Criminal Code to restrict freedom of speech.
Shortages of newsprint and the deteriorating economy due to international sanctions enabled the Government selectively to direct supplies to favored publications and to reduce financial support to independent journals. In Vojvodina, the Hungarian independent Magyar Szo resisted an attempt to have it merge with a Serbian publishing house, fearing financial mismanagement would force it to close. The paper struggled on, overcoming a stoppage in March, but ceased publication temporarily in October due to financial problems and a shortage of newsprint. At year's end, Magyar Szo was appearing twice weekly.
Proposed press regulations to regulate foreign investment in domestic media would make illegal Serbian press connections with foreigners or foreign support of Serbian media under most circumstances.
Despite a precarious existence, Bujku, the only Albanian- language newspaper, continued to be published. It was forced to miss two issues in October because of their Serbian-run publishing house's alleged inability to obtain newsprint. The publishing house itself had previously been in Albanian hands but was transferred to Serbian control by various financial and legal measures over objections from the Albanian management. A hunger strike by Albanian writers in June failed to prevent control being tranferred into Serbian hands. The paper is prepared independently and uncensored and clearly reflects the views of the ethnic Albanian democratic movement in Kosovo. As such, it is the main source of information for the Albanian community.
Publication of material critical of the Government, however, was tolerated, with a few notable exceptions. A political cartoon deemed to incite ethnic, religious, and racial hatred resulted in the confiscation of all copies of an issue of Sandzak, a publication of the Muslim cultural society in Novi Pazar; the prosecutor brought criminal charges against its editor in chief. Serbian police seized Rexhep Ismaili's book "Kosovo and the Albanians in the Former Yugoslavia" from a private printing house and confiscated all copies of it. They also temporarily blocked distribution of "Thema", published by the Kosovo Association of Sociologists and Philosophers.
On February 9, satirist Mihajlo Radojcic was sentenced to 5 months in prison, with 2 years suspended, for "exposing the President of the Presidency of the Republic of Montenegro, Momir Bulatovic, to ridicule." The President of the Association of Professional Journalists of Montenegro criticized the conviction and accused the Government of trying to eliminate free thought.
Both local and international journalists were harassed and intimidated. Dusan Reljic, foreign editor of the independent Vreme, a publication consistently critical of Milosevic, was kidnaped and questioned while blindfolded for 2 days in late September, shortly after the Serbian Minister of Information warned of "fifth column" elements among Serbian journalists. Reljic believed his interrogators were police or state intelligence agents.
Progovernment media in January accused Roy Gutman, correspondent for Newsday, of being a spy involved in a Western media conspiracy against Serbia. They made these charges on the same day that the Government threatened restrictions on certain foreign journalists. During the June 1-2 demonstrations in Belgrade, police confiscated or destroyed the equipment of many journalists whom they beat and threatened. The authorities expelled the Belgrade correspondent of the London-based, Saudi-owned Al Hayat from Serbia/Montenegro after 13 years in residence, with 2 weeks' notice and no official explanation. In early December, the Government refused, without explanation, to extend the accreditation of long-time London Times correspondent Desa Trevisan.
Milosevic's control of the media and particularly state television is vital to the strength of his regime. Through Serbian Radio and Television (RTS), the Government exerts editorial control over all news programming, which is used to spread ethnic hatred. Blatant anti-Muslim or anti-Albanian propaganda, fanning the fires of religious and ethnic hatred, constituted a substantial portion of the regular news programs which RTS broadcast.
In early 1993, RTS placed some 1,500 employees on involuntary leave. The majority had publicly condemned RTS's encouragement of nationalistic and religious intolerance. They were also members of the independent RTS union. The director of Novi Sad Radio-Television ordered stricter application of the Serbian law on the official use of language and the alphabet, which resulted in the immediate deletion of all references in the Hungarian language from official programming.
Independent television station Studio B continued to struggle for survival. It faced eviction from its premises in favor of a proregime firm. Despite its having received frequencies approved by the International Telecommunications Union for repeater stations, Serbian authorities refused to approve them on the grounds that only the Serbian government could allocate frequencies on Serbian territory. This attitude, combined with the hijacking in late 1992 of new equipment and its inability to buy suitable land from the government to house its transmitter, prevented Studio B from extending its range of reception beyond Belgrade. Police broke into Studio B studios and confiscated video footage of the June 1 protest (see Section 1.c.).
A new compulsory tax was levied on citizens of Serbia/ Montenegro as part of their electric bills beginning on October 1. Revenue is to be used to subsidize RTS, thus further diminishing independent television's ability to compete.
Reports continued of threats and, on rare occasions, instances of physical violence directed against individuals or organizations who expressed criticism of Serbia's extreme nationalist ideology or of the "Yugoslav" army and security services. For instance, a journalist who wrote for a Belgrade daily a piece critical of the army subsequently received death threats. Several Belgrade University professors who expressed oppositionist views or simply failed to collaborate with the regime received death threats.
In January Milosevic's government fired the Rector of Belgrade University, as well as the directors of the Modern Art Museum and the National Theater. Some teachers were removed from their posts, and others reported receiving death threats. Legislation granted the State direct control of public enterprises. The Education Ministry used this power to fire school principals.
The controversial university law was quietly modified by the Serbian assembly in May to give more control to the government regarding the founding of private and foreign universities and minority language instruction, requiring that an "opinion" (in other words, permission) be sought from the Ministry of Education. The Government controls 50 percent of the membership of the University Council, the supreme ruling body of the University, as well as the chairman. On June 22, the University Council elected the dean of the Agricultural faculty and SPS representative in the Federal Assembly as Rector of the University of Belgrade.
In June Rexhep Osmani, chairman of the Kosovo Association of Albanian Teachers, was sentenced to 60 days in prison for organizing peaceful protests on Albanian education in October 1992. Professor Ejup Statovci, rector of the underground Albanian university of Pristina, was returned to prison in February to complete serving a 60-day sentence growing out of the same 1992 incident.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and AssociationAlthough freedom of peaceful assembly and association is legally provided for, these freedoms were severely restricted. Authorities arbitrarily enforced regulations, permitting some demonstrations and banning others. They permitted supporters of National Peasant Party leader Dragan Veselinov to demonstrate in Belgrade in July for the release of Vuk Draskovic, whereas in late August police broke up a gathering of milk producers in Belgrade organized by Veselinov's party to protest the Government's pricing of milk. When violence by protestors marred the spontaneous June 1 demonstrations at the Federal Assembly building, police riot teams broke up the gathering, indiscriminately beating and arresting participants and bystanders alike (also see Section 1.c.).
Ethnic Albanians involved with political groups are subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention, disruption and destruction of their meetings and offices, and confiscation of documentation and property. During one such raid on the offices of the Democratic League of Kosovo, police arrested the local vice chairman and party members. During their detention at the police station, police beat them and instructed them not to continue their political activities. In another incident, the chairman and secretary of the office of the Democratic Alliance of Kosovo (LDK) in Glogovac were beaten at a police checkpoint. The branch chairman was sent to Pristina where he was detained for 30 days for allegedly assaulting a police officer, during which time police beat and tortured him. He faces a possible 5- to 15-year sentence. During raids on schools, police arrested ethnic Albanian teachers and released them the same day as a form of harassment to discourage employment in private Albanian schools. Police held many others for longer than 3 days but subsequently released them without filing charges or providing an explanation for their detention.
Disruptive and violent police raids frequently targeted meetings of ethnic Albanians. In Mitrovice, police raided a peaceful gathering to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the murder of Hasan Prishtina, an ethnic Albanian hero. Police broke up the gathering and indiscriminately beat the participants, including the elderly, children, and women.
Police detained and questioned a founding member of Arkadia, a gay rights group, about the group's activities.
Police arrested committee members of the Belgrade Islamic community in April and accused them of collecting money for arms while compiling data on the Islamic community.
c. Freedom of ReligionThere is no state religion, but the Government gives the Serbian Orthodox Church, to which the majority of Serbs belong, preferential treatment over other faiths and access to state-run television for religious events.
Although there are no legal restrictions on the practice of religion, the regime overtly and covertly promoted religious intolerance. Police condoned periodic harassment of religious facilities used by ethnic minorities. After the fire-bombing of Hungarian and Croatian Catholic churches in the Vojvodina, police investigations were generally perfunctory and inconclusive.
Following the mining of a mosque in the municipality of Bar in October, the fourth such act of vandalism against Muslim religious sites in Montenegro, there was widespread condemnation from local authorities.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and RepatriationThe Constitution provides for freedom of movement. Exit visas are generally not required except for travel to Albania. Passports are available to most citizens of Serbia/Montenegro, but many Kosovar Albanians have had their right to travel restricted.
Following Macedonia's imposition of a passport requirement for all citizens of the former Yugoslavia, there were increasing reports that Serbian border guards confiscated the passports of ethnic Albanians working abroad as they returned to Kosovo. Police also confiscated some passports during house searches. Serbian authorities on the Kosovo-Macedonia border delayed departure of a Kosovar Albanian delegation attending meetings on educational issues of the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia.
The authorities detained two members of the Kosovo Helsinki Committee as they crossed into Kosovo from Macedonia following their attendance at a meeting in Tirana. Serbian police seized the passport of a well-known ethnic Albanian journalist and political activist on the grounds that he had visited Albania without obtaining a Serbian exit visa. Despite such cases, Serbian authorities have generally allowed ethnic Albanian leaders, including LDK leader Ibrahim Rugova, to leave the country and return, even though they consider his party and other ethnic Albanian parties illegal.
On May 1, Serbia tightened its refugee requirements, drawing up a list of "safe municipalities" and contending that those arriving from nationalist Serb-controlled regions of Bosnia and Croatia were no longer eligible for refugee status. Only Montenegro continued to offer unconditional protection to refugees from Bosnia and Croatia. There are approximately 60,000 refugees in Montenegro, 10 percent of its population. As in Serbia, nearly 95 percent live with host families.
Informed observers reported that Serbian police at times prevented Muslim refugees from entering Serbia by bus from Montenegro, while allowing Serb refugees on the same busses to enter.
Numerous reliable reports indicate that local minorities, especially in Vojvodina, have been forcibly displaced and Serb refugees moved into their homes.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their GovernmentThe Constitution allows citizens to change their government, but their ability to do so is circumscribed by the Milosevic government's control of mass media and the electoral process. This is the case particularly in Serbia. In the December 1992 elections, opposition parties were denied equal access to the state-run media, voter registration lists omitted many eligible voters, international observers noted numerous voting irregularities, and serious questions were raised as to the accuracy of the vote count. The CSCE report concluded that this election could not be deemed to be fair and democratic. The CSCE found conditions in Montenegro much better. In the December 1993 Serbian parliamentary elections, similar doubts were raised as to the fairness of voting procedures.
Parliamentary elections are held every 4 years. In principle the ballot is secret, but in practice voting booths are often not available, and voters mark their ballots on open tables or behind small cardboard shields. Voters, nonetheless, can obtain a degree of privacy.
Slobodan Milosevic dominates the political system in Serbia/Montenegro. Although formally President of Serbia, one of the two constituent republics in the so-called Yugoslav Federal Republic, Milosevic, through his control of the Serbian police, the army, and the state administration, first weakened the authority of the Federal Government and then placed his followers in key positions, including Federal President and Federal Prime Minister.
In May the Serbian Socialist Party combined with the Serbian Radical Party to remove Federal President Dobrica Cosic, who had shown some degree of independence from Milosevic. In a striking display of political ruthlessness, Cosic was summarily ousted following a single day's unscheduled debate in the Federal Parliament with no opportunity to defend himself. Democratic opposition deputies, who protested the unprecedented haste with which the Head of State was dismissed, were jeered and threatened by SRS deputies, one of whom subsequently attacked an opposition delegate in the lobby of Parliament, knocking him unconscious. This sparked the June 1 demonstrations (see Section 1.c.).
A new law on the declaration of a state of siege carries the threat that martial law could be imposed over the objections of the Montenegrin republic. Throughout 1993, party and political institutions in Montenegro functioned in fits and starts with some degree of adherence to democratic principles and the rule of law, as well as tolerance for opposition and ethnic minority views, at least in comparison with the situation in Serbia. Nevertheless, the Montenegrin government's sphere for independent action is greatly circumscribed by Milosevic's refusal to tolerate significant divergence from the Serbian party line.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human RightsLocal human rights monitors, Serbs as well as members of minorities, worked courageously under difficult circumstances and despite public insinuations by ultranationalist leaders and sometimes government officials that they were traitors. Police routinely searched human rights offices in Kosovo, confiscated documents, and harassed their employees.
A number of independent human rights organizations exist in Serbia/Montenegro, researching and gathering information on abuses and publicizing such cases. Several operate out of Kosovo, including the Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Kosovo Helsinki Committee. In the Sandzak region, a separate Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms monitors abuses against the local Muslim population. The Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Fund and the Center for Antiwar Action (CAA) have a broader scope of activities, researching human rights abuses throughout the "FRY" and on occasion, elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia. In addition to monitoring human rights abuses, the CAA sponsors symposiums and lectures and runs a small publishing house. The activities of independent human rights agencies are carefully monitored by Serbian authorities but they are not generally subject to overt harassment. Last July, however, local authorities seized files and computer disks belonging to the Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms in Pristina. The materials have not been returned. In August the CAA and two opposition groups had their offices robbed and documents stolen, pointing to political rather than criminal motives for the break-ins.
The governments of Serbia and Montenegro formally maintain that they have no objection to international organizations conducting human rights investigations on their territories. However, they regularly attacked the findings of human rights groups. The Federal Minister for Human Rights and National Minorities repeatedly charged the international community with selective application of international law, criticized the work of the CSCE monitors even as local Serbian officials praised that work, and denied human rights violations against minority groups.
On June 29, the "FRY" mission to the United Nations in Geneva rejected a proposal to allow envoys of U.N. Human Rights Rapporteur Tadeusz Mazowiecki entry to Serbia/Montenegro. The refusal was based on the assertion that in previous visits, Mazowiecki had indulged in "malicious" misrepresentations and had applied double standards unfair to Serbia.
The CSCE missions established in September 1992 and terminated by Milosevic in July 1993 experienced varying degrees of cooperation. During a planned visit to villages bordering Bosnia in the Montenegrin part of Sandzak, the mission was not able to reach the villages because local officials failed to provide security guarantees. However, relations with local officials were generally good. Belgrade refused to extend the mission's mandate in July after insisting on linking its presence to Serbia/Montenegro's suspended status in the CSCE, and several Serbian and federal officials publicly accused the CSCE mission of inciting local populations.
Violent acts against ethnic minorities in the regions formerly monitored by the CSCE missions subsequently increased, particularly in Kosovo, including acts against former employees and associates of the missions. Prizren police detained and questioned a Helsinki Watch representative and a British journalist while they were covering the aftermath of a trial of five Albanians accused of "endangering the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia." They were released after 4 hours of questioning.
Many foreign delegations visited all parts of Serbia and Montenegro without difficulty, but a Swedish delegation due to visit Kosovo on a refugee-related mission was denied visas.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social StatusFederal and republic laws guarantee equal rights to all citizens, regardless of ethnic group, religion, language, or social status.
WomenWomen have suffered numerous human rights abuses in the hostile atmosphere of oppressive nationalism fostered by the regime during the conflict and warfare over the breakup of Yugoslavia. Women's rights activists have little access to the mass media and are therefore virtually unknown outside of Belgrade and Novi Sad. Serbian women face rising levels of domestic violence and sexual harassment in the workplace. Few women are represented in high-level political positions.
Federal and republic laws prohibit discrimination against women, but the laws are not enforced. In comparison to men, women have limited access to senior positions in political and economic life but are well represented in the professions, particularly as doctors and teachers. According to women's rights monitors, as a result of the deteriorating economic situation, women were often the first to be let go. The Police Academy no longer accepts female students. Those women who had attended the school were hired in purely administrative positions, and there are no female police officers in uniform on the street. Although women constitute 70 percent of the students enrolled at the Law Faculty of Belgrade University, in the workplace women comprise only 10 percent of public prosecutors and only 10 percent of judges at the Supreme Court level.
Women are entitled to equal pay for equal work. Maternity leave for employed women usually is granted for 1 year, and even longer in some cases, although the collapse of the economy has restricted such benefits in practice. Legal penalties for spousal abuse are the same as those for abuse of other persons, but a complaint must be filed. This is seldom done, according to women's rights groups, due to traditional attitudes.
According to women's rights monitors in Belgrade, these same traditional attitudes cause women's rights groups to be largely ignored. One group reported a burglary at its offices, during which nothing was taken, and after which the group was evicted from those premises. The reasons for the eviction are not clear.
Women's rights groups established an SOS hotline and opened a rape crisis center in Belgrade in September with the aim of assisting women raped in the war in Bosnia. Some 5,000 calls have been received since the hotline was established in 1992. Most of the women who call are aged between 40 and 60, poorly educated, and unemployed. Representatives claim that domestic violence against women and children has taken an upward turn as husbands, returning traumatized and armed from the war in Bosnia, are unable to find jobs and take their frustration out on their families. The hotline reports that sexual harassment of women has increased and is tolerated by women from all levels of society who are fearful of losing their jobs.
The Serbian Orthodox Church accused Serbian women of failing to give birth to enough children and demanded a ban on abortions earlier in the year. The Church had insufficient political support and failed to achieve the ban.
ChildrenThe minimum age for employment is 16 years, although in villages and farm communities, younger children often assist with family agricultural obligations.
National/Racial/Ethnic MinoritiesThe ethnic minorities of Serbia/Montenegro continued to suffer discrimination in all respects, in addition to the abuses described elsewhere in this report. There were credible reports that qualified Muslims or ethnic Albanians were fired from their jobs on the basis of religion or ethnicity.
Members of ethnic minorities were badly treated in the armed forces where they were viewed with suspicion and often outright hostility. In early 1993, there appeared to be an increase in the number of Muslims being called to military service which may have reflected an effort to encourage Sandzak Muslims to leave the area. A recently enacted law for the army contains a provision whereby recruits may serve in a civilian capacity for religious or other reasons of conscience; it remains to be seen whether it will be applied to minorities.
There is a traditional prejudice against the substantial Gypsy (Roma) population. The Yugoslav Democratic Party of Gypsies is not well organized and does not play a role in the political life of the country commensurate with its numbers. The Gypsy population has the right to vote, and there is no legal discrimination, although traditional societal discrimination is widespread, and local authorities apparently condone and even participate in harassment and intimidation of Gypsies.
Religious MinoritiesAfter the December 1992 election victory of Milosevic's Socialists and Seselj's Radicals, the regime moved to fire uncooperative employees and place its own handpicked candidates in senior positions at Serbian Radio and Television and other institutions. Seselj mounted a campaign of treason accusations against dissidents and non-Serbs. Increasing authoritarianism and intolerance created a fearful climate for members of all of Serbia's ethnic and religious minorities.
The Humanitarian Law Fund stated that since August 1992 violent incidents against Muslims have been increasing. The Fund accused military and paramilitary Serbian groups from Bosnia, reservists of the "FRY" army, and local police. The government has not taken any effective action to protect the Muslim population in Sandzak from continuing violence.
Sandzak Muslim soccer fans and supporters of Zeljko "Arkan" Raznjatovic's All-Serbian Pristina Club clashed at Novi Pazar stadium during a soccer game. Police arrested 50 Muslim spectators on a variety of charges, but none of Arkan's supporters were arrested.
In Sandzak there continued to be reports of destruction of mosques and Muslim-owned businesses. In Sjenica 17 Muslims in senior positions were fired and replaced by Serbs.
People with DisabilitiesThere is no formal legislation to guarantee equal rights for the disabled. Attempts to introduce legislation have failed. An opposition party is lobbying to broaden existing legislation to provide equal rights for the disabled. Public buildings are required to provide access for the disabled, but it is only recommended that private buildings provide such access.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of AssociationAll workers (except military personnel) are legally entitled to form or join unions of their own choosing. This right is formally respected. Workers are no longer obligated to join and pay dues to the official unions.
The older semiofficial union umbrella organizations (the Council of Independent Trade Unions of Serbia--CITUS, the Council of Independent Trade Unions of Montenegro--CITUM, and their federal counterpart, the Council of Independent Trade Unions of Yugoslavia--CITUY) had offered material benefits to members, such as preferential access to lower cost commodities from government reserves, that the fledgling independent unions were unable to match. These commodity reserves have dwindled, however, leaving union members facing much the same shortages as nonunion members. Although statistics on the size of the organized work force are unreliable, the large bulk of Serbian and Montenegrin workers are probably members of the semiofficial CITUS and CITUM. CITUS claims current membership of 1.8 million workers, while the more loosely affiliated Serbian independent trade union organization (Nezavisnost) has between 80,000 and 200,000 members.
There are reportedly no unions independent of CITUM in Montenegro. Since mid-1991, union activity has generally been at a reduced level, either out of support for the Government or due to fears of being perceived as disloyal.
The right to strike is recognized and was exercised by both the independent and progovernment trade union organizations throughout 1993. A 30-day notification of the intent to strike is required. More than two dozen strikes were recorded, protesting lack of job security and the failure of wages to keep pace with hyperinflation. Some unions called for the resignation of the Federal Government. Additionally, there were two general strikes, one organized by the independent labor union on May 19 and the other organized by progovernment unions on August 5. Both were poorly organized and failed to achieve the widespread work stoppages initially planned. During the course of the year, the Government successfully defused worker discontent by either partially or fully meeting union demands for wage increases. Hyperinflation, however, eroded purchasing power so quickly that any wage increases rapidly disappeared in real economic terms.
The Serbian Interior Ministry has instructed Belgrade's public prosecutor to investigate leaders of a strike organized by the Kolubara Coal Miner's Union in December. There have been reports of union activists being harassed and briefly detained by the police.
In June 160 civil air controllers working for the Ministry of Traffic and Communications went on a hunger strike to protest low wages and hazardous working conditions. The strike, which was bitterly fought, proved to be a negative turning point in government-labor relations but, more significantly, provided the Government with the impetus to pass a major new law that bans all public service workers from participating in strikes.
The Independent Trade Unions of Kosovo (ITUK), formally recognized by the Federal Government, continued to face huge obstacles at the local level in representing a work force that suffered from official repression, repeated mass dismissals on ethnic grounds, and consequent massive unemployment. CITUS is well represented in Kosovo and has taken over the offices occupied by the Communist-era trade union. According to ITUK, worker union fees deducted from paychecks are deposited with CITUS, and benefits are distributed only to Serbian workers. All ethnic Albanian workers pay union fees voluntarily.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain CollectivelyThis right is guaranteed by law, but Western-style collective bargaining is unknown. Under U.N. sanctions, which have led the Government to freeze previously planned economic reforms, real collective bargaining is unlikely. Plant management is not independent of the Government nor an effective bargaining partner for the unions. Republic wage controls effectively usurped the role of enterprises and the semiofficial chambers of economy. The republic governments have promised that no workers would be discharged as a result of the sanctions and guaranteed that idled workers would receive an income equal to 50 percent of their former wages.
Privatization of social property (state enterprises) is another problem in which the rights and interests of workers are not well defined or understood.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory LaborForced labor is prohibited by law and is not known to occur.
d. Minimum Age for Employment of ChildrenThe minimum age for employment is 16, although in villages and farm communities younger children often assist with family agricultural obligations.
e. Acceptable Conditions of WorkThe republic governments guaranteed minimum wages, but delays and partial payments were pandemic. The governments of Serbia and Montenegro continued strict wage controls in 1993. Unemployment and underemployment due to sanctions and other economic problems also reduced the number of families with two wage earners. The minimum wage is insufficient to provide a worker and family a decent living standard. By October the net minimum monthly wage in Serbia was only sufficient to feed a family of four for 2 or 3 days.
The official workweek was listed as 40 hours, but many enterprises and workers worked fewer hours for lack of raw materials. In general, sick leave and other benefits are generous. Federal and republic laws and regulations on occupational health and safety were adequate, although enforcement was lax.