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Journalists want Serbian govt to crack down on neo-Nazi groups

Journalists want Serbian govt to crack down on neo-Nazi groups
Preachers of violence: Last month, the Serbian parliament passed a law banning neo-Nazi and fascist organisations from gathering at events and using Nazi symbols. Adopted by parliament on May 29, the law bars those convicted of war crimes before The Hague tribunal or in domestic courts from spreading ideas. The law also prohibits the fuelling of national, religious and racial intolerance.

The Independent Journalists' Association of Serbia (IJAS/NUNS), the Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM), local Press and the the Independent Journalists' Association of Journalists of Vojvodina (IJAV/NDNV) have urged the government to ban the work and operations of extremist, fascist, neo-Nazi and racist groups in Serbia.

The latest case of the beating of journalist Teofil Pancic and the fact that the arrested attackers belong to one of the extremist organisations, is the last in a sea of cases of beatings of Serbian citizens just because they are, according to the criminal extremists preaching the ideology of the Aryan race, "different."

The targets of the extremists are small religious communities, members of different ethnicity, LGBT population, NGO activists, politicians, intellectuals. For years, the targets have been also journalists who write and report critically, for example Brankica Stankovic, author of the TV investigative programme 'Insider', who has been accompanied for months by the police because of threats received from the extremists, namely "soccer fans."

The organisations reminded the authorities of adopted amendments to the Criminal Code a year ago, which provide much more rigorous penalties for attacks on journalists. "We also remind that, more than a year ago, the Serbian Parliament adopted the Law on the Prohibition of neo-Nazi or fascist events and organisation and the use of neo-Nazi and fascist symbols. We remind that last year, the prosecution launched an initiative to ban these organizations and asked the Constitutional Court of Serbia for the opinion on the ban of extremist organizations. Finally, we remind that in 2005, the Assembly of Vojvodina requested the ban of clero-fascists and neo-Nazis in Serbia," they said.

"We acknowledge the fact that police have identified Pancic's attackers and express confidence that they will be adequately punished by the judiciary. We also acknowledge the fact that one of the "fans" has been convicted for threats to Brankica Stankovic, although the sentence was, in our opinion, small."

However, if the state really cares about the security of its citizens, it must consider the initiative to ban the extremist organisations. As long as the authorities do not take proper measures against the organisations' activities, no journalists, who are committed to the values of civil society, will ever be safe, and with that, neither will citizens who are "different," the organisations said.

Date posted: August 10, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 185