Stop threats to organizations and individuals who submitted the initiative to assess the constitutionality of the criminal code

Organizations and individuals who submitted a petition to the Constitutional Court on the 2nd  of December 2019 to review the constitutionality of amendments to the Criminal Code imposing a life sentence of imprisonment without parole have filed criminal charges against all persons who have threatened the security and persecuted individuals and human rights organizations fighting for respect for human rights.

At the beginning of last week, after the introduction of provisions imposing the sentence of life imprisonment without parole for criminal offences of first-degree murder, rape with fatal outcome, sexual intercourse with an infirm person with fatal outcome, sexual intercourse with a child with fatal outcome and sexual intercourse through abuse of position with fatal outcome, organizations and human rights experts filed an initiative to review the constitutionality of these provisions of the Criminal Code. In the same manner, when the amendments to the Criminal Code were adopted, all opposed to these unconstitutional changes were presented as people not protecting children’s interests, monsters and protectors of rapists.

Following the last appearance of Mr. Igor Juric, director of the Foundation Tijana Juric on the “Upitnik” talk-show, declaring the Center for the Rights of the Child as an organization that is against the interests of the child, staff working in this organization started receiving death threats. After a video statement made by Pavle Bihalija, director of the Leviathan Movement Foundation, the threats intensified, which is why we are forced to seek protection from the competent authorities.

We deeply believe that the society we live in can only advance if it respects the constitutional values ​​on which it is based and if it is built on the rule of law and human rights for every person who lives here. Attacks and threats with “baseball bats”, “hammers” and “stakes” are absolutely unacceptable in the debate on the constitutionality of disputed provisions of the Criminal Code, and we are guaranteed by our Constitution the right to raise arguments against these harmful changes by using all local and international rights protection mechanisms at our disposal. We deeply believe in human rights, to which the rights of the child belong, and we believe that even the gravest case should not be a cause for violations of them or, contempt of the Constitution and international treaties. In a democratic society, the use of instruments envisaged by the Constitution and laws, such as the constitutional review initiative, cannot and should not be a pretext for public persecution, lynching or violence of any kind.

Therefore, we express our solidarity with the Center for the Rights of the Child and other human rights defenders and join the organizations and individuals who filed the initiative before the Constitutional Court of Serbia.

Finally, we expect that the Constitutional Court, in accordance with its powers, will open a public hearing in the process of reviewing the constitutionality and legality of these amendments, so that everyone has the opportunity to present their arguments. The aforementioned baseball bats, hammers and stakes are not acceptable.

Signed by:

  1. A 11 – Initiative for Economic and Social Rights;
  2. ASTRA -Anti-Trafficking Action;
  3. ATINA – Citizens Association for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and All Forms of Gender-Based Violence;
  4. Belgrade Center for Human Rights;
  5. CEPRIS – Judicial Research Center;
  6. FemPlatz;
  7. Civic Initiatives;
  8. Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights – YUCOM;
  9. Užice Child Rights Center;
  10. Inclusive Society Development Center;
  11. net;
  12. Foundation Center for Democracy;
  13. Humanitarian Law Center;
  14. Group 484;
  15. Youth Initiative for Human Rights;
  16. IAN – International Aid Network;
  17. Cultural Center DamaD;
  19. Niš Human Rights Board;
  20. Youth Center CK13;
  21. PIN – Psychosocial Innovation Network;
  22. Reconstruction Women’s Fund; 
  23. Sandžak Board of Human Rights and Freedom;
  24. Association of Women Peščanik;
  25. Confederation of Trade Unions Nezavisnost; 
  26. Women in Black; 
  27. JAZAS Youth;
  28. Mental Disability Rights Initiative of Serbia (MDRI-S);
  29. Victimology Society of Serbia.