Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion: Summary of cases transmitted to Governments and replies received, A/HRC/14/23/Add.1, 1 June 2010: Serbia
Letter of allegations
2093. On 21 January 2009, the Special Rapporteur, together with Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, sent a letter of allegations to the Government concerning members of the NGO Queeria, which advocates for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Republic of Serbia.
2094. According to the information received, on 17 December 2008, the organization Naši (Ours), allegedly put up posters in central Belgrade, containing messages against Queeria. The posters showed a photograph of Queeria’s president, Mr. Boban Stojanovic, stating “While Serbs are being laid off, look who is being financed by Boris Tadic and the government of Serbia. The Serbian Ministry of Culture within a tender for projects in the field of public information has recently granted 256.000 dinars for the website Queeria centre which is promoting gay rights and slandering the Serbian Orthodox Church in the most despicable way. Is this what the democrats were promising before the election?” The posters showed homoerotic images of the leaders of Queeria.
2095. Apart from the poster campaign, Queeria receives daily death threats and threats of physical violence on their website and official email address since it was granted financial support by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia. Activists of Queeria are also frequently targeted on the website ‘Stormfront’, and on the community website Facebook.
2096. Concern was expressed for the physical and psychological integrity of the members of the NGO Queeria. Further concern was expressed regarding the apparent lack of investigation and prosecution into the death threats and threats of physical violence against Queeria activists. Additional concern was also expressed regarding the use of a combination of personal images of activists, sexualized personal insults and inflammatory language on the posters in question.
Response from the Government
2097. In a letter dated 29 April 2009, the Government responded to the communication sent on 21 January 2009 as follows.
2098. According to information received from the Serbian Ministry of the Interior (MUP), Queeria’s president, Mr. Bojan Stojanovic, has not lodged a formal complaint to the police regarding the alleged incident, but has, instead, brought it to the attention of non-governmental and international organizations. However, Serbia’s Ministry for Human and Minority Rights has brought this case to the attention of the Republic’s Public Prosecutor. The allegation letter has been referred to the Special Prosecutor in charge of cybercrime with the District Public Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade, who is responsible for the prosecution of such cases in all the territory of the Republic of Serbia. It was recommended that pre-trial proceedings be instituted in order for the police (MUP) to investigate a certain Mr. Ivan Ivanovic, president of the organization Nasi (Ours), who allegedly denied the allegations in a press interview.
2099. Once having knowledge of the case, police officers, in cooperation with the case Prosecutor, began undertaking measures and actions provided for by the law to look into it. Furthermore, the Republic’s Prosecutor gathered evidence of the published newspaper articles and on official websites of the organizations concerned.
2100. At the same time, checks are currently underway to find out whether the allegations about death threats received, as contained in the Special Rapporteur’s letter, is true as well as whether the website page of the organization Nasi is posted (sic!) by a local or foreign provider and whether it is possible to obtain from the server in question daily listings of accessing by users for the purpose of identifying a person/persons making death threats. The Republic’s Prosecutor is acting in this case under the authority to possibly substitute or devolve the lower-instance prosecution office.
Link to full text of the report: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14.23.Add.1_AV.pdf