The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in Serbia

By Vexen Crabtree 2019

#equality #freedom #human_rights #politics #serbia #tolerance

Serbia
Republic of Serbia

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index47th best
CapitalBelgrade
Land Area 87 460km21
LocationEurope, The Balkans
Population8.8m2
Life Expectancy75.05yrs (2017)3
GNI$12 202 (2017)4
ISO3166-1 CodesRS, SRB, 6885
Internet Domain.rs, .yu6
CurrencyDinar (RSD)7
Telephone+3818

Serbia does relatively well in ensuring human rights and freedom, compared to many other countries. Serbia does the second-best for its nominal commitment to Human Rights9. It does better than average when it comes to LGBT equality10, opposing gender inequality11 (but high for Europe), commentary in Human Rights Watch reports12 (but amongst the lowest in Europe), supporting press freedom13 (but high for Europe) and in supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms14 (but bad for Europe). Serbia does not succeed in everything, however. It does worse than average when it comes to its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice15 and in speed of uptake of HR treaties16. Attacks and threats against journalists continue with an inedquate response from the government, and in fact pro-government media outlets continued engage in "smear campaigns against independent outlets and journalists"17. Rather than help them protect their people, government officials and institutions treat human rights defenders with hostility17.


1. Serbia's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)18,19
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank18,19
1Denmark9.7
2Sweden10.0
3Norway16.1
...
47Bosnia & Herzegovina58.8
48Bolivia60.0
49S. Africa60.3
50Serbia61.1
51Guatemala63.3
52Kosovo63.8
53Ukraine64.2
54El Salvador64.3
55Jamaica64.6
World Avg89.8
q=199.

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Denmark, Sweden and Norway18. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are Tuvalu, The Solomon Islands and Palestine18.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice and LGBT equality. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe18, whereas the worst are Micronesia, Melanesia and Australasia18.

2. Human Rights & Tolerance Data Sets

War crimes prosecutions were hampered due to lack of political support, insufficient staff, and other resources at the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor, and weak witness support mechanisms. The Serbian parliament finally appointed a new war crimes prosecutor in May, after an 18-month-long vacancy. Few high ranking officials implicated in serious wartime abuses have been held to account in Serbian courts. [...] Since the establishment of the War Crimes Prosecution Office in 2003, 124 judgments have been issued, 82 people convicted and 42 acquitted.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)17

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments

#human_rights

Human Rights Watch Comments (2017)12
Pos.Higher is better
Score12
1UK9
2France9
3Germany9
...
57S. Africa-2
58Singapore-2
59Haiti-2
60Serbia-3
61Papua New Guinea-3
62Belarus-3
63India-3
64Qatar-3
World Avg-1.9
q=123.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR

#human_rights

Nominal Commitment to HR (2009)9
Pos.Higher is better
Treaties9
1Argentina24
2Chile23
3Costa Rica23
...
8Spain23
9Slovenia23
10Paraguay23
11Serbia23
12Sweden23
13Uruguay23
14Italy22
15Denmark22
World Avg15.1
q=194.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag (2019)16
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Yrs/Treaty16
1Ecuador2.15
2Uruguay2.25
3Tunisia3.65
...
139Ivory Coast12.14
140Trinidad & Tobago12.26
141Turkmenistan12.35
142Serbia12.44
143Indonesia12.45
144S. Africa12.51
145Bahrain12.55
146Haiti12.61
World Avg10.02
q=195.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

2.4. Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom

#freedom #politics

Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom (2014)14
Pos.Lower is better
Rank14
1Hong Kong1
2Switzerland2
3New Zealand3
...
64Cambodia64
65Madagascar65
66Brunei66
67Serbia67
68Guatemala68
69Moldova69
70Namibia69
71Bolivia71
World Avg79.7
q=159.

The Human Freedom Index published by the Fraser Institute is...

... a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas: Rule of Law, Security and Safety, Movement, Religion, Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Expression, Relationships, Size of Government, Legal System and Property Rights, Access to Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business. [...]

The highest levels of freedom are in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and North America (Canada and the United States. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

Countries in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significant higher per capita income ($37,147) [compared with] the least-free quartile [at] $8,700). The HFI finds a strong correlation between human freedom and democracy.

"The Human Freedom Index" by The Fraser Institute (2016)20

2.5. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom (2013)13
Pos.Lower is better13
1Finland638
2Netherlands648
3Norway652
...
59Chile2624
60Sierra Leone2635
61Mauritius2647
62Serbia2659
63Croatia2661
64Central African Rep.2661
65Tonga2670
66Mauritania2676
World Avg3249
q=178.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted".

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

Attacks and threats against journalists continued. The authorities´ response was inadequate. Between January and mid-November, the Independent Journalists´ Association of Serbia (NUNS) registered 75 incidents of violence, threats or intimidation against journalists, including six physical attacks. Pro-government media outlets continued to engage in smear campaigns against independent outlets and journalists.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)17

2.6. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Slavery (2018)21
Pos.Lower is better
% Victims21
1Japan0.03
2Canada0.05
3Taiwan0.05
...
64Trinidad & Tobago0.30
65Yemen0.31
66Namibia0.33
67Serbia0.33
68Bosnia & Herzegovina0.34
69Botswana0.34
70Honduras0.34
71Poland0.34
World Avg0.65
q=167.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory22. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends23. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life24. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves25.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery26. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity27. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.28. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi21, Eritrea21, Indonesia29) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery30.

3. Gender Equality Data Sets

Serbia is on the way towards ending gender inequality.

See:

3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Gender Inequality (2015)11
Pos.Lower is better11
1Switzerland0.04
2Denmark0.04
3Netherlands0.04
...
37China0.16
38Libya0.17
39Slovakia0.18
40Serbia0.18
41Latvia0.19
42Kazakhstan0.20
43USA0.20
44Malta0.22
World Avg0.36
q=159.

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchialism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

4. Prejudice Data Sets

4.1. Anti-Semite Opinions

#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam

Anti-Semite Opinions (2014)15
Pos.Lower is better
%15
1Laos0
2Philippines3
3Sweden4
...
71Colombia41
72Hungary41
73Dominican Rep.41
74Serbia42
75Bulgaria44
76Mauritius44
77Poland45
78Indonesia48
World Avg36.8
q=101.

Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews31,32,33,34. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.

The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East35, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews36,37. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"38. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males39.

4.2. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

Attacks on and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and activists occurred regularly. Serbian LGBT rights organization DA SE ZNA!, between August 2016 and August 2017, recorded ... nine physical attacks, 12 threats and 56 cases of hate speech [but] investigations are often slow and prosecutions rare.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)17

There is hope that things will change for the better; the Pride parade in 2017 took place "without major incidents", and, the Serbian prime minister is openly lesbian, indicating that a large part of the electorate are not heavily prejudiced.

LGBT Equality (2017)10
Pos.Higher is better
Score10
1Netherlands103
2Belgium90
3Sweden86
...
38Poland40
39Albania40
40Switzerland40
41Serbia40
42Cyprus40
43Italy40
44Greece39
45Czechia39
World Avg12.6
q=196.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence40. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws41. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries40. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.