Human Rights House Foundation statement

HRC54 – Item 6 – UPR Adoption – Serbia

3 October 2023

Check against delivery.

Thank you.

We welcome the recommendations Serbia has accepted in relation to freedom of expression. However, the emphasis must be on implementation.

During its review in the third cycle, Serbia received 27 recommendations regarding freedom of expression with 16 related to the safety of journalists and media workers.

And although Serbia undertook some concrete steps, the safety of journalists has not improved overall, numerous attacks and threats on journalists are regularly recorded, and existing protection mechanisms have not proven sufficient.

Human rights defenders, journalists and media workers are exposed to various types of pressures and smear campaigns from public officials and pro-government media. The Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia recorded 137 cases of attacks against journalists in 2022 alone.

Finally, the number of cases of Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation, or SLAPPs, have been on the rise in the past couple of years. In 2021 and 2022 there were 40 lawsuits that could be characterized as SLAPPs, and these have tended to negatively affect freedom of expression and civic space.


We make the following recommendations to Serbia, in-line with recommendations it has already accepted:

  1. Conduct effective, independent investigations into all cases of deaths, attacks, harassment and intimidation against journalists, media workers, and HRDs offline and online, ensuring no impunity for perpetrators.
  2. Take concrete measures so that the legal framework contains safeguards to deal with unfounded or abusive court proceedings against public participation.
  3. Provide additional training for judges and lawyers in order to build their knowledge and capacities in detecting and dealing with manifestly unfounded or abusive court proceedings against public participation.

Thank you.