Sunday, February 23, 2020

alarm azcThe prEUgovor coalition presented its new ALARM report about Serbia’s progress in the implementation of policies in areas from EU negotiation chapters 23 and 24. This report contains the prEUgovor coalition’s assessment of the political criteria for the EU accession process and the fulfilment of criteria for selected policy areas from Chapters 23 and 24 for the period October 2018 - March 2019. The key finding is that recent developments can hardly be assessed as positive; moreover, it seems that the overall tendencies in the monitored fields show worrying and, in some cases, alarming tendencies.

An indicator of progress achieved and impact in the implementation of activities concerning the principle of non-discrimination and vulnerable social groups, is the progress noted in the UN CEDAW Committee’s Concluding Observations.

„The Committee gave a set of new recommendations, which have not been included in previous Concluding Observations, indicating the deterioration of the context of the achievement of fundamental rights of women”, said Tanja Ignjatovic on behalf of the Autonomous Women’s Center.

She pointed out that the Committee noted an increasing anti-gender discourse, a high presence of gender stereotypes in public speech and misogynistic media statements by high level politicians, religious leaders and representatives of the academic community, that are unsanctioned. In addition to this, the Committee expressed its concern about the promotion of conservative ideas about the traditional family, further aggravated by a national campaign for population growth and adoption of the Law on the Financial Support to Families with Children.

For the first time, a concern was clearly expressed concerning the negative media campaign and reporting against female representatives of civil society. The Committee recommended that the state party ensure that women’s rights activists are able to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association without intimidation or reprisals; that cases of alleged intimidation or reprisals against civil society activists are duly investigated, that civil servants that obstruct the prosecution of attackers are held accountable.   

In addition to this, Tanja Ignjatovic reminded those present that the Government submitted to the National Assembly, for consideration and adoption, the Draft Law on Amendments of the Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination, without organizing a public debate, which is contrary to the provisions of the Law on the Planning System of the Republic of Serbia. Referring to the arbitrary actions of Minister Djordjevic concerning the establishment of the national SOS helpline, she explained that the CEDAW Committee recommended that the Republic of Serbia ensure the operation of an anonymous SOS helpline to be operated by personnel experienced in working with victims of violence, which the opposite of what happened in Serbia.

It will be important to monitor how the state will react to the Concluding Observations of the CEDAW Committee linked with the revision of the Action plan for Chapter 23, as the interim benchmarks have already pointed out that there is a need to the implementation of laws and strategies, not just for their adoption. Another important question is what changes the implementation of planned activities will bring about, that is, will women citizens, especially those from groups facing multiple discrimination, experience any concrete improvements.

You can download the prEUgovor Coalition’s report here.