The State Department web site below is a permanent electronic archive of information released prior to January 20, 2001.  Please see www.state.gov for material released since President George W. Bush took office on that date.  This site is not updated so external links may no longer function.  Contact us with any questions about finding information.

NOTE: External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Department Seal

flag
bar

TITLE: SERBIA-MONTENEGRO HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE: FEBRUARY 1995






                       SERBIA-MONTENEGRO


The United States and the international community do not 
recognize Serbia-Montenegro as the successor state to the 
former Yugoslavia and have suspended the "Federal Republic of 
Yugoslavia" ("FRY") from participation in the United Nations, 
the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), 
and other international organizations.

Serbia-Montenegro is dominated by Slobodan Milosevic, who is 
serving his second 5-year term as President of Serbia.  He 
controls the country through his Socialist Party of Serbia 
(SPS), which lacks majorities in both the "Federal" and Serbian 
Parliaments but holds the key administrative positions.  The 
SPS abolished the political autonomy of Kosovo and Vojvodina in 
1990, and all significant decisionmaking since that time has 
been centralized under Milosevic in Belgrade.

As a key element of his hold on power, Milosevic wields strong 
control over the Serbian police, a heavily armed force of 
perhaps 100,000 which is guilty of extensive, brutal, and 
systematic human rights abuses, including extrajudicial 
killings.  Another important factor in Milosevic's rise to 
power and almost total domination of the Government is his 
control and manipulation of the media.  Freedom of the press is 
greatly circumscribed.  The Government discouraged independent 
media and resorted to surveillance, harassment, and eventual 
suppression to inhibit the media from reporting its repressive 
and violent acts.  At year's end, the Government's legal moves 
against a major independent newspaper threatened to still its 
voice.  Police elements routinely monitor opposition leaders, 
human rights workers, and political dissidents.

In addition to the absolute power which Milosevic wields over 
Serbia-Montenegro, until August his Government actively 
fostered violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina by providing 
military, economic, political, and moral support to ethnic 
Serbs responsible for massive human rights abuses including 
"ethnic cleansing."  The Government of Serbia-Montenegro 
announced at that time that it would stop the flow of all 
nonhumanitarian aid across its boundaries into Bosnia and 
Herzegovina; in September, it allowed the deployment of a 
mission sponsored by the International Conference on the Former 
Yugoslavia (ICFY) to observe adherence to border controls.  In 
return, the United Nations Security Council voted to suspend 
temporarily some of the sanctions previously imposed on 
Serbia-Montenegro so long as ICFY observers continue to verify 
that the border remains closed.

U.N. economic sanctions continued to impact the economy for the 
third successive year.  An economic stabilization program 
introduced in January succeeded in bringing hyperinflation 
under control, but by year's end the program was beginning to 
show serious cracks.  The hard currency black market had 
reappeared, consumers struggled under the double burden of high 
prices and a shortage of local currency, unemployment continued 
at levels in excess of 50 percent, and independent labor unions 
tried unsuccessfully to mobilize labor protests.  The net 
results were the reduction of a once thriving middle class to 
near subsistence levels and concomitant increases in crime, 
including organized drug trafficking.

The Government continued to inflict egregious abuses on the 
one-third of the population who are not ethnic Serbs, and 
repressed voices of opposition in the ethnic Serb community as 
well.  Government officials carried out sanctioned extrajudicial
killings, torture, brutal beatings, arbitrary arrest, and a 
general campaign to keep the non-Serb populations repressed.  
While an atmosphere of fear and violence pervades all of 
Serbia-Montenegro, the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo and the 
Muslims of Sandzak suffer the heaviest abuses.  Repressive acts 
against these minorities increased dramatically after the 
Government refused to extend the mandate of the CSCE monitoring 
missions in 1993.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

Political violence in Serbia-Montenegro, including killings by 
police, resulted mostly from direct and indirect efforts by 
Serbian authorities to suppress and intimidate ethnic majority 
groups.  Leaders of minority communities in Kosovo and Sandzak, 
and to a lesser extent Vojvodina, reported numerous acts of 
violence and intimidation aimed at repressing non-Serbs and 
Muslims.  The level of violence was most severe in the Albanian-
populated region of Kosovo, where police repressed expressions 
of political and community life, and in the Muslim-populated 
region of Sandzak, where "ethnic cleansing" continued, with 
homes inhabited by Muslims being turned over to Serbs.

According to the Council for the Defense of Human Rights and 
Freedoms (CDHRF), a monitoring organization based in Pristina, 
Kosovo, 17 ethnic Albanians were killed by police during the 
year; 11 of them were shot by police, and the others died while 
in police custody, reportedly due to mistreatment or beatings.  
In most cases, the authorities claimed that those killed were 
shot while fleeing or resisting arrest.  Police, however, 
appear to have resorted to deadly force with little or no 
attempt to apprehend the alleged suspects by other means.  A 
Serbian police officer in July shot and killed a 6-year-old 
ethnic Albanian boy, Fidan Brestovci, while he was riding in 
his parents' car.  The officer later claimed he had mistaken 
the car for one driven by a wanted felon.

In March, following an argument in a Kosovo Polje restaurant, a 
Serbian police officer shot and killed Faik Maloku and 
seriously wounded Xhevat Bejzaku.  Maloku evidently failed to 
produce a personal identity card on demand.  The officer was 
detained for investigation, but no formal charges were filed 
against him.  In early August, a large Serbian police 
contingent killed Hasan Ramadani, a former political prisoner, 
while searching his house in Podujevo for illegal weapons.  In 
September, when violence broke out in the town of Decani during 
a police raid on market day, Serbian police fired 
indiscriminately, according to eyewitnesses, and killed a young 
Albanian mother of two while she was watching from a window.

     b.  Disappearance

The reduced level of paramilitary activity in Serbia-Montenegro 
led to a sharp drop in the number of kidnapings and 
disappearances.  Human rights agencies reported no new cases of 
disappearance or officially sanctioned kidnaping.

In May Serbian authorities "extradited" the notorious 
paramilitary figure Milan Lukic to Bosnian Serb authorities in 
the "Serbian Republic" (RS) where he is believed to have been 
set free.  Lukic was scheduled to stand trial for his role in 
the Strpci kidnapings in February 1993 when 17 ethnic Muslims 
and 2 Croats were taken from the Belgrade-Bar train as it 
crossed a narrow strip of Bosnian territory.  None of those who 
disappeared have been heard from.  Paramilitary forces are 
presumed to have murdered them, but their families continued to 
petition the Government for information on their fate.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

While the law prohibits torture, police in Serbia routinely 
beat people severely when holding them under detention or 
stopping them at police checkpoints, especially targeting 
ethnic Albanians.  According to human rights agencies, police 
beat thousands of Kosovar Albanians and Sandzak Muslims during 
searches for illegal weapons, and extracted "confessions" 
during interrogations that routinely included beating the 
suspects' feet, hands, and genital areas with fists and 
nightsticks, use of electric shocks, and verbal intimidation.  
In late November, Ismail Raka, an ethnic Albanian from Kaganik 
in southeast Kosovo, died while in police custody.  His family 
was told he had committed suicide by jumping from a fifth-floor 
window; photographs of his body show evidence of torture and 
severe beatings.  Sabit Vllahia died in Podujevo in early 
December, and Hasan Cubolli, age 81, died in Podujevo on 
December 27 while being held by the Serbian police.

The use of excessive force in Kosovo and Sandzak was both 
routine and capricious.  Police allegedly beat Sylejman Bytuqi 
when they raided his home in Malisheva and found an 
unregistered gun.  Four days later, local police severely beat 
Mustafe Rukovci in Gnjilane after failing to uncover any 
weapons in a search of his home.  Serbian police beat and 
harassed the family members of suspected political activists or 
those they believed to be in possession of illegal weapons.

Apparently confident there would be no reprisals, police often 
beat their victims in public view or in front of their 
families.  On February 21, police reportedly searched the house 
of Ibrahim Havoli, an ethnic Albanian, and, because Havoli was 
not at home, beat his brother.  Amnesty International reported 
that 2 days later, 40 police officers searched the home of 
Shemsi Gashi in Pristina, brutally beating him, his 2 sons, and 
2 guests in front of the rest of the family.  In Pec, police 
took an ethnic Albanian secondary student off a school bus in 
April, beat him, and carved Serbian nationalist symbols into 
his chest.

Police allegedly told one beaten man that they would drop 
criminal charges against him if he signed a statement saying he 
had not been beaten.  They warned another one that he would 
have trouble with notorious paramilitary leaders Zeljko "Arkan" 
Raznjatovic and Vojislav Seselj if he talked.  In May police in 
Kosovo stopped two men for no apparent reason as they drove 
their children to school and beat them so severely they were 
hospitalized for 3 days.  When it turned out that the men were 
ethnic Serbs, officials at all levels demanded that proceedings 
be started against the police.

Prior to 1994, the Government of Montenegro had generally 
displayed more tolerance toward its ethnic minorities than had 
its Serbian counterpart.  In February and March, however, 
Montenegrin police beat and tortured 25 Sandzak Muslims active 
in the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) whom they had arrested 
on a variety of weapons charges.  According to defense lawyers, 
Harun Hadzic was beaten for 48 hours without a break, given 
electric shocks, and forced to wear a painfully hot asbestos 
cap.  Police beat Hadzic and the other victims with truncheons, 
making them count the number of blows out loud, tied them to 
radiators, deprived them of food, water, and sleep, and 
threatened to kill them.  Police allegedly forced a truncheon 
first into Avdea Ciguljin's anus and then into his mouth.  
Sandzak Muslim political leaders and human rights activists 
believed the beatings were aimed at creating a climate of fear 
in the Muslim community to destroy the SDA and ultimately alter 
the demographic balance in the region by causing Muslims to 
flee.

In the Sandzak region, Serbian authorities were similarly 
abusive.  The Humanitarian Law Fund (HLF), a Belgrade-based 
human rights organization, documented numerous instances in 
which local authorities used torture and physical abuse during 
a series of massive house-to-house searches carried out in 
Prijepolje between January 27 and February 17.  Many of those 
beaten singled out district chief Mileta Novakovic as having 
been particularly brutal.  Some beatings were clearly 
politically motivated.  One victim told an HLF representative 
that his interrogation began with a berating for his political 
activities followed by a severe beating.  Fadil Osmanovic, a 
teacher and vice president of the SDA in Berane, committed 
suicide after being tortured at a police station and ordered to 
report to the police again.  In May police beat Mustafa Dzigal 
in a Novi Pazar prison after questioning him about his contacts 
with CSCE representatives.

Nearly 100 Kosovar Albanians and Sandzak Muslims have been 
convicted over the past 2 years and are serving prison terms on 
the unsubstantiated grounds of conspiring to undermine the 
integrity of the State.  Insofar as the real grounds for these 
charges appear to have been that these persons were active in 
ethnic Albanian and Sandzak Muslim political parties, they may 
be said to have been prosecuted for their political associations
rather than for criminal activity.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Federal law permits police to detain suspects without a warrant 
and hold them incommunicado for up to 3 days without charging 
them or granting them access to an attorney.  After this 
period, police must turn a suspect over to an investigative 
judge, who may order a 30-day extension and, under certain 
legal procedures, subsequent extensions of investigative 
detention up to 6 months.  Police routinely held suspects well 
beyond the 3-day statutory period.  It is generally during this 
initial period that detainees experience the worst treatment 
and abuse.  During investigative detention, detainees 
theoretically have access to legal counsel, although in 
practice access is only occasionally granted.

Defense lawyers in Kosovo and Sandzak have filed numerous 
complaints about flagrant breaches of standard procedure which 
they believed undermined their clients' rights.  The courts 
ignored those complaints.  In November and December, police 
began a massive roundup of some 200 ethnic Albanian former 
members of police and security forces in Kosovo.  Lawyers 
reported that most of those detained were subjected to harsh 
beatings and electric shock torture, held longer than the law 
permits before charges were brought, and subjected to more 
beatings after appearing in court.

A group of 25 Montenegrin Sandzak Muslims arrested between 
January 26 and March 20, most of them active in the SDA, were 
held without charge for longer than the law allows.  They were 
not allowed to contact defense lawyers until February 8, when 
the high court in Bijelo Polje, Montenegro, overturned a ruling 
by the investigative judge that suspended their right to 
counsel.  In the interim, police interrogated the defendants in 
the absence of their lawyers and, after subjecting them to 
brutal physical torture including the use of cattle prods, 
obtained incriminating statements from them.  In June the 
Montenegrin investigative judge widened the scope of the 
investigation to include another 12 suspects, further delaying 
the trial date.  On December 28, 21 defendants were sentenced 
to prison terms ranging from 2 to 7 years for "attempting to 
undermine the territorial integrity of the State."  The head of 
the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) in Montenegro, Hajrun 
Hadzic, received the stiffest sentence of 7 years, to begin 
immediately rather than after the appeals process.

Defense lawyers and human rights workers have also complained 
of excessive delays in filing formal charges and opening 
investigations.  The ability of the defense to challenge the 
legal basis of their clients' detention was further hampered by 
the difficulty they encountered in gaining access to copies of 
the official indictment and the decision to remand the defendant
into custody.  In some cases, prosecutors have failed to share 
material evidence with the defense in a timely fashion, and 
judges have prevented defense attorneys from reading the court 
file.  The investigative judges, formally responsible for every 
aspect of the investigation, often delegate most or all 
responsibility to the police or state security service.  
Although this is allowed under law, the free hand given to the 
police often reduced the role of the investigative judge to one 
of pure formalism.  Defense lawyers frequently complained of 
difficulty in gaining access to their clients, even during 
questioning by the investigative judge, a restriction rarely 
placed on public prosecutors.

In a country where the majority of ethnic Serbs are armed, 
police selectively enforce the laws regulating the possession 
and registration of firearms so as to harass and intimidate 
ethnic minorities.  Serbs are rarely, if ever, charged with 
similar crimes although they are equally well armed, generally 
with illegal or unregistered weapons.  An exception occurred in 
September when Serbian President Milosevic moved against 
members of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS).  
One SRS parliamentary deputy, Vakic, was stripped of his 
parliamentary immunity for illegal possession of explosives and 
automatic weapons.

Often, police in Sandzak and Kosovo simply order a member of an 
ethnic minority to turn in a certain weapon and a specified 
number of bullets within a set time, on threat of detention or 
torture.  The victim, if not in possession of a weapon, is 
generally forced to purchase one on the black market in order 
to turn it in to the police.  Police do not similarly harass 
ethnic Serbs, and despite high crime rates arrests of Serbs for 
possession of illegal weapons are rare.

In January Serbian police arrested Rivzat Halilovic, leader of 
a faction of the Macedonian Party of Democratic Action while he 
was in Serbia, on highly suspect charges of espionage.  The 
"secret maps" that he was accused of handing over to Pakistani 
agents could be purchased at any Belgrade book store.

In Kosovo, Serbian police continued a policy of frequent, 
arbitrary detention of political activists.  Following a 
concert in Urosevac commemorating the death of 5 ethnic 
Albanians in violent clashes with police, Serbian authorities 
ordered the arrest of some 40 of those present, including 
prominent members of several local branches of the Democratic 
League of Kosovo (LDK).  The police allegedly beat them in the 
course of interrogation.  The arrests were designed strictly to 
intimidate and were not connected to the concert in any way.

On February 4, three unidentified men kidnaped Veljko Dzakula, 
a former "vice president" in the self-proclaimed "Republic of 
Serbian Krajina" (RSK), from a busy street in downtown 
Belgrade.  The night before his disappearance, he gave an 
interview to independent television Studio B highly critical of 
the Yugoslav army.  Five days after he disappeared, 
representatives of the RSK "interior ministry" admitted to 
holding Dzakula in Glina prison on charges of espionage.  A 
Belgrade-based human rights lawyer claimed that Serbian police, 
working closely with the RSK state security service, kidnaped 
Dzakula and "extradited" him to the "RSK" without allowing him 
to defend himself.  Although the territory of the "RSK" is 
internationally recognized as a part of Croatia, Dzakula was 
charged with a crime under the "FRY" Criminal Code.

Exile is neither legally permitted nor routinely practiced.  No 
specific instances of the imposition of exile as a form of 
judicial punishment are known to have occurred.  

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The authorities frequently deny this right to non-Serbs and to 
persons they believe oppose the regime (see below).

The court system comprises local, district, and supreme courts 
at the republic level, and a Federal Supreme Court to which 
republic Supreme Court decisions may be appealed.  There is 
also a military court system.  According to the Federal 
Constitution, the Federal Constitutional Court rules on the 
constitutionality of laws and regulations, relying on the 
republic authorities to enforce its rulings.  The Federal 
Criminal Code of the former Socialist Federal Republic of 
Yugoslavia still applies.

Under federal law, defendants have the right to be present at 
their trials and to have an attorney, at public expense if 
needed.  Both the defendant and the prosecutor may appeal the 
verdict.

Article 116 of the Yugoslav Criminal Code, which allows for 
sentences of up to 10 years for "undermining the territorial 
integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia," is often used 
selectively to convict Kosovar Albanians and Sandzak Muslims on 
flimsy or circumstantial evidence.  In February Kosovo district 
courts sentenced more than 30 ethnic Albanians to terms ranging 
from 1 to 10 years under Article 116 for allegedly organizing 
"illegal defense forces" under an independent Republic of 
Kosovo.  According to Amnesty International, defense lawyers 
complained that statements taken during interrogation--and 
subsequently used in prosecuting the Kosovar Albanians--were 
solicited under severe physical and psychological pressures.

Delays and seemingly arbitrary changes in the charges similarly 
marred the ongoing trial of another group of 25 Muslim 
political activists on weapons charges in Novi Pazar, Serbia.  
Defense lawyers did not deny that their clients were in 
possession of illegal arms but maintained that the laws were 
being selectively enforced and used as a means of intimidating 
the Sandzak Muslim community.  The trial ended in a conviction, 
but the original weapons charges were suddenly changed to the 
more serious criminal charge of attempting to undermine the 
territorial integrity of the State.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

Federal law gives republic ministries of the interior sole 
control over the decision to monitor potential criminal 
activities, a power routinely abused.  Authorities regularly 
monitored opposition and dissident activity, eavesdropped on 
conversations, read mail, and tapped telephones.  In December 
human rights advocates objected to an announcement by the 
Federal post office that it had been registering all mail from 
abroad, ostensibly to protect mail carriers from charges of 
theft.

Although the law includes restrictions on searches, officials 
often ignored such restrictions.  In Kosovo and Sandzak, police 
systematically subjected ethnic Albanians to random searches of 
their homes, vehicles, and offices, asserting they were 
searching for weapons.  The CDHRF reported that in the first 3 
months of 1994 police searched over 1,000 Kosovar Albanian 
homes, often physically abusing the inhabitants.

As an example of such methods, on a typical day in Kosovo (July 
22), police raided Hetmen and Nezir Makolli's Pristina home and 
seized a licensed hunting rifle, searched the home of Hysen 
Hasani and his sons in Lipljan, and raided the home of Hasan 
Fetaj in Suva Reka, threatening to draft him into the Yugoslav 
army.  Similar scenes were repeated thousands of times in 
Kosovo and Sandzak.

In January and February, police conducted a series of massive 
house-to-house searches in Prijepolje (Sandzak).  Police also 
routinely stopped private vehicles in Kosovo and Sandzak and 
searched them and the passengers without probable cause.  
Authorities often confiscated foreign currency from drivers and 
passengers, although it is not illegal to possess foreign 
currency.

     g.  Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian 
         Law in Internal Conflicts

The Government's decision to close the border with Bosnia in 
August, exempting only food, clothing, and medicine, was an 
implicit acknowledgement of the support it has provided to the 
Bosnian Serbs and their policy of ethnic cleansing since the 
beginning of the Bosnian war.  (See the report on Bosnia and 
Herzegovina for an account of excessive force and violations of 
humanitarian law which the Milosevic regime consistently aided 
and abetted.)  There were numerous credible reports of Yugoslav 
army units operating in eastern Bosnia as "volunteers."  
Following the downing of four Galeb-type planes by NATO forces 
in February, an obituary of one of the pilots appeared in the 
major Serbian daily Politika.  Although Serbian authorities 
officially denied any involvement in the incident, the obituary 
announced that the pilot, a Montenegrin citizen, died fighting 
for his country--"Greater Serbia."

In Serbia itself, authorities frequently subjected members of 
ethnic minorities to intimidation, with the goal of provoking 
their emigration.  Ethnic Albanians and Muslims were severely 
punished for even the slightest violation of laws that were 
selectively enforced by Serbian police and judicial 
authorities.  Harassment and intimidation of ethnic Croats in 
the multiethnic province of Vojvodina continued.  Documented 
incidents of harassment and intimidation of ethnic minorities 
in Vojvodina were at lower levels compared with previous years, 
but the official statistics provided little comfort to those 
who still retain bitter memories of forced conscription and 
physical abuse from the recent past.  While overt forms of 
harassment were down, ethnic Croats and Hungarians complained 
about more subtle forms of abuse, including alleged plans by 
the Serbian government to alter the ethnic composition of 
communities by forcibly resettling Bosnian and Croatian Serb 
refugees.  In February a self-described "Chetnik" held Sinisa 
Vidakovic at gunpoint and threatened to kill him if he and his 
family did not move out of town.  In Sremska Kamenica on May 7, 
an unknown person threw several crude, home-made bombs at the 
residences of local Croats.  A similar bomb exploded in front 
of the Franciscan church in Subotica in June.  Local 
authorities did little to investigate the incidents.

Although Serbian authorities prosecuted one former paramilitary 
leader for crimes committed in Bosnia and claimed to be about 
to charge others, many other known and suspected war criminals 
were never the targets of a formal investigation.  Some 
individuals suspected of criminal activity connected to the 
conflict in Bosnia and the earlier war with Croatia hold 
prominent positions in the Serbian, Montenegrin, or "FRY" 
governments.  Other suspected war criminals serve as members of 
Parliament.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and the Press

Although freedom of press and speech is provided for under law, 
this right is not respected in practice.  Republic authorities 
use provisions of the Federal Criminal Code to restrict freedom 
of speech.  For instance, the person of the President is 
protected by law from criticism.  Federal laws are being used 
to overturn privatization processes and subvert independent 
media into state controlled media (Borba and Studio B).  
Federal law has also been used to set up progovernment radio 
and television stations run by local party heads throughout 
Serbia.  The regime controls frequency allocations for 
broadcasters and has enormous influence on supplies and 
revenues for the print media.  Although it continued to 
tolerate the independent but low-circulation print media of 
Borba and Vreme in Belgrade, both often critical of the 
Government, most of the population nationwide is dependent for 
its news on electronic media firmly under government control.  
The Government again blocked the attempts of independent 
television station Studio B and independent radio station B-92 
to expand transmission of their broadcasts.

Milosevic's control of the media, particularly state 
television, is vital to the strength of his regime.  Through 
Serbian Radio and Television (RTS), the Government exerts 
editorial control over all news programming.  The regime 
abandoned the most blatant forms of anti-Muslim propaganda in 
1994, except in the tabloid press, but news concerning non-Serb 
ethnic minorities continued to receive very slanted and hostile 
coverage.  The authorities generally tolerated publication of 
material critical of the Government as long as dissident voices 
were kept off television and out of mass-market publications.  
They dismissed the editor of the semi-independent Television 
Politika from his position in August and fired him from the 
company after he gave prime-time coverage to one of Milosevic's 
most consistent critics.

Shortages of newsprint caused by the deteriorating economy 
enabled the Government selectively to direct supplies to 
favored publications and to reduce financial support of 
independent journals.  Serbian customs authorities seized 
several shipments of equipment and newsprint provided by the 
Soros Foundation for Belgrade independent daily Borba and radio 
B-92   They later negotiated a reduction in the initial demand 
for a ransom amounting to thousands of dollars.  In December, 
Borba was forced to reduce its circulation and number of pages 
because it could not obtain sufficient newsprint.

The Serbian government, a minority shareholder in the semi-
independent Belgrade daily Borba, tried to use its 17-percent 
share to exercise full control over the newspaper.  In 
September the Government began court proceedings against Borba 
claiming the means by which it had formed its stock company 
were illegal.  In late December, federal government authorities 
through manipulation of the federal courts took over management 
of Borba, installing the head of the Federal Secretariat for 
Information as editor.  In Vojvodina, the Hungarian-language 
independent newspaper Magyar Szo continued to resist attempts 
to merge with a Serbian publishing house, fearing financial 
mismanagement would force it to close.  B-92 has not yet been 
officially licensed and must continue to operate as a "pirate" 
radio station.

Proposed legislation to regulate foreign investment in domestic 
media would make Serbian press connections with foreigners or 
foreign support of Serbian media illegal under most 
circumstances.  In April the "FRY" Ministry of Information 
stripped a total of 13 correspondents and staff working for 
foreign news agencies (most of them ethnic Serbs) of their 
accreditations for allegedly engaging in "anti-Serbian 
activities."  It did not explain why it had singled out these 
journalists.  One American reporter who spoke with 
representatives of the Serbian independent media on the record 
about the revocation of credentials was given 5 days to leave 
the country.

Studio B continued to struggle for survival.  It faced eviction 
from its premises in favor of a proregime firm.  Although 
Serbian authorities finally approved repeater stations for it, 
they refused to vacate the allocated mountaintop areas, 
preventing the station from extending its range of reception 
beyond Belgrade.  Studio B lost an important sponsor and was 
forced to cancel a planned folk festival when RTS threatened 
the singers with loss of their RTS recording contracts if they 
cooperated with the station.

In March federal authorities prohibited ham radio operators 
from transmitting messages to Bosnia.  For many people in 
Serbia-Montenegro, the estimated 15 private radio clubs were 
their only link to friends and relatives still in Bosnia.  
Military and civilian officials, accusing the radio operators 
of espionage and passing militarily significant messages to the 
Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, began confiscating radio 
equipment and harassing the operators.

Despite a precarious existence, the only Albanian-language 
newspaper, Bujku, continued to be published, and a number of 
new Albanian-language weeklies began publication.  Bujku, which 
is independent of Belgrade and uncensored, clearly reflects the 
views of the Kosovar Albanian LDK leadership.  As such, it is 
the main source of information for the Albanian community.  
Radio and Television Pristina, however, remain firmly under the 
control of RTS and the ruling Socialist Party.  In June 
Belgrade student radio Indeks went on strike to protest the 
appointment of a new editor in chief forced on the station by 
the Socialist Party's youth movement.  For some time, Indeks 
played only the MTV satellite audio signal; it is now off the 
air, pending "studio refurbishment."

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Although the Federal Constitution provides for freedom of 
peaceful assembly and association, the authorities severely 
restricted these freedoms, applying the laws and regulations in 
a capricious fashion.  Kosovo was singled out for particular 
restrictions of assembly, and Serbian authorities targeted 
so-called parallel ethnic Albanian social structures for 
harassment.  In February and March, local authorities in 
Pristina shut down both the independent Kosovo Academy of Arts 
and Sciences and the Institute for Albanian Studies, beating 
Institute director Sadri Fetiu and several staff members in the 
process.  Local authorities, who had been threatening to close 
the Academy of Arts and Sciences for more than 2 years, 
considered it a symbol of the Kosovar separatist movement.

As of midyear, police conducted some 420 raids on schools in 
the parallel Albanian educational system.  In February they 
arrested Tafil Bahimja, director of an Albanian-language 
primary school in Kraljane, and interrogated him about the 
school's curriculum, threatening him with physical harm.

The authorities also severely restricted Albanian political 
organizations.  The then Serbian district chief for Kosovo 
issued two separate public calls for a ban on all LDK activity 
in May.  Arkan and his Party of Serbian Unity (SSJ) made 
similar repeated, public demands.  Although the district chief 
was subsequently dismissed, Belgrade authorities did not 
dispute his contention that the LDK was actively working to 
undermine the Serbian constitutional order.  In July police 
raided a meeting of the Social Democratic Party in Kosovo 
Mitrovica, beating up the general secretary and three members 
of the presidency.  The president, Bilim Bislimi, was 
subsequently arrested.

In Sandzak, Serb authorities have arrested and harassed 
politically active Muslims, primarily because of their 
membership in the Party of Democratic Action.  With most of the 
Muslim leadership in prison or in exile, the Serbian 
authorities succeeded in forging an association between 
political involvement and police harassment that inhibited the 
exercise of free political expression and made political 
activity a visibly risky proposition.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

There is no state religion, but the Government gives 
preferential treatment to the Serbian Orthodox Church, to which 
the majority of Serbs belong--including access to state-run 
television for religious events.

There are no legal restrictions on the practice of religion, 
but police condoned periodic violence against religious 
facilities used by ethnic minorities and their investigations 
into the fire-bombing attacks on Catholic churches in Vojvodina 
or vandalism of mosques in Sandzak were perfunctory.

One human rights organization based in Novi Pazar reported that 
police summoned even more people than usual for interrogation 
on Muslim religious holidays.  The Serbian Orthodox hierarchy 
in 1994 adopted a more stridently nationalistic tone in regard 
to events in Bosnia, a development that had a chilling impact 
on members of other faiths and non-Serb ethnic groups.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Constitution provides for freedom of movement.  The regime 
generally does not require exit visas except for travel to 
Albania, and makes passports available to most citizens, while 
restricting the right to travel of many Kosovar Albanians.  
Serbian authorities have generally allowed ethnic Albanian 
leaders, including LDK leader Ibrahim Rugova, to leave the 
country and return, even though they consider his party and 
other ethnic Albanian parties illegal.

Ethnic Albanians have frequently complained of harassment at 
border crossings, generally when entering from Hungary or at 
the border between Kosovo and Macedonia.  There have been 
numerous reports of border guards confiscating foreign currency 
or passports from travelers, as well as occasional complaints 
of physical ill-treatment.  Serbian border guards and customs 
officials harassed Kosovar Albanians returning from abroad, 
sometimes refusing to recognize the validity of legitimate 
passports held by ethnic Albanians repatriated from Western 
European countries.

Montenegrin authorities "deported" Serbian ultranationalist 
Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj to Serbia for making 
comments at a political rally that were deemed "offensive to 
the Republic of Montenegro and its leaders."  It also expelled 
34 other Radical Party deputies to Serbia on a government-owned 
airplane.  Seselj's expulsion, almost certainly sanctioned at 
the highest political levels, was a direct violation of the 
constitutional guarantees on freedom of movement.

Many refugees from the Bosnian conflict who had been living in 
collective centers or with host families in Serbia-Montenegro 
returned to their homes in Bosnia (or to homes that had been 
"cleansed" of their previous Muslim tenants).  Serbian and 
Montenegrin authorities encouraged this exodus by threatening 
to strip refugees of their status or force them to serve in the 
Bosnian Serb army.  In violation of both international 
convention and Serbian law, the Yugoslav army cooperated 
closely with the Bosnian Serb military in a roundup of refugees 
in January and February.  In May Serbian authorities stripped 
over 100,000 people of their refugee status.  Although they did 
not forcibly expel them, they induced many to return to 
"liberated" eastern Bosnia.  Lawyers counseling the refugees 
who were called up for military service believed that both the 
Serbian Red Cross and the Serbian Committee for Refugees were 
supplying the military with the names and addresses of 
draft-age males.

Many people succeeded in evading military service, and the 
authorities did not pursue draft dodgers systematically.  
However, the Government threatened to begin proceedings against 
ethnic Albanians living abroad who had avoided military service 
if they were repatriated to the "FRY."  More typically, police 
who picked up young Kosovar Albanians found to be evading draft 
notices took them to army barracks where they were beaten and 
eventually released.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

The Constitution provides for this right, but in practice 
citizens are prevented from exercising it by the Milosevic 
Government's monopoly of mass media and of the electoral 
process.  In the December 1993 elections, the authorities 
denied opposition parties equal access to the state-run media 
and omitted many voters from the registration lists.  Observers 
noted numerous voting irregularities and raised serious 
questions as to the accuracy of the vote count.

Slobodan Milosevic dominates the political system in Serbia-
Montenegro.  Although formally president of Serbia, one of the 
two constituent republics in the so-called Yugoslav Federal 
Republic, Milosevic first weakened the authorities of the 
Federal Government through his control of the Serbian police, 
the army, and the state administration, and then placed his 
followers in key positions, including the Federal President and 
the Federal Prime Minister.  Milosevic greatly circumscribes 
the Montenegrin government's sphere for independent action as 
he does not tolerate significant divergence from the Serbian 
party line.

The domestic political opposition, hamstrung by these 
extralegal means of political control, proved incapable of 
providing an effective alternative to the ruling Socialist 
Party (SPS).  Although the SPS does not control an absolute 
majority of seats in the Serbian Parliament, it managed to 
coopt one of the opposition parties, allowing the Socialists to 
form the Government in January.  In Montenegro, where the 
ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) enjoys an absolute 
majority, opposition parliamentarians complained that the 
Government often railroaded legislation through Parliament 
without time for adequate debate.  In both Serbia and 
Montenegro, the ruling parties have effectively blocked 
legislation that would loosen their control over the state-run 
media.

Ethnic Serbs dominate the political leadership in Serbia.  Few 
members of other ethnic groups play any role at the top levels 
of government or the state-run economy.  The same is true of 
women (see Section 5), although in both instances there are no 
legal restrictions preventing advancement.  Ethnic Albanians, 
as a matter of principle, refuse to take part in the electoral 
process, and therefore have little representation.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Local human rights monitors (Serbs as well as members of ethnic 
minorities) worked under difficult circumstances amid public 
insinuations by ultranationalist leaders and sometimes 
government officials that they were traitors.  Police routinely 
searched human rights offices in Kosovo, confiscated documents, 
and harassed their employees.

A number of independent human rights organizations exist in 
Serbia-Montenegro, researching and gathering information on 
abuses and publicizing such cases.  Several operate out of 
Kosovo, including the Council for the Defense of Human Rights 
and Freedoms and the Kosovo Helsinki Committee.  In the Sandzak 
region, a separate Council for the Protection of Human Rights 
and Freedoms monitors abuses against the local Muslim 
population and produces comprehensive reports.

The Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Fund and the Center for 
Antiwar Action (CAA) have a broader scope of activities, 
researching human rights abuses throughout the "FRY" and, on 
occasion, elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia.  The CAA also 
sponsors symposia and lectures and runs a small publishing 
house.  CAA members set up a hot line providing legal counsel 
to refugees who received military induction notices and formed 
the Committee to Free Veljko Dzakula when the Serbian security 
service kidnaped him in January (see Section 1.d.).  Serbian 
authorities carefully monitor the activities of independent 
human rights agencies but generally do not subject them to 
overt harassment.

The governments of Serbia and Montenegro formally maintain that 
they have no objection to international organizations 
conducting human rights investigations on their territories.  
However, they hindered such activities and regularly rejected 
the findings of human rights groups.  Serbian authorities 
refused to issue visas to representatives of a number of human 
rights organizations, including Amnesty International.  "FRY" 
authorities soundly rebuffed numerous approaches about allowing 
the reintroduction of the CSCE Long-Duration Missions to 
Kosovo, Vojvodina and Sandzak.  Officials on all levels 
maintained that the CSCE must first reinstate the "FRY" before 
it would be allowed to operate in Serbia-Montenegro.

Diplomats from various CSCE countries stationed in Belgrade and 
traveling in groups were frequently denied meetings with 
Serbian authorities who considered them de facto CSCE observers 
carrying out an expired mandate.  In May Foreign Ministry 
officials made veiled threats to expel Embassy personnel who 
took part in CSCE-sponsored trips outside Belgrade.  In October 
the Foreign Ministry again complained about CSCE Embassy 
members traveling to Kosovo, Sandzak, and Vojvodina.  
Repressive acts against ethnic minorities have increased 
significantly since the CSCE missions in Kosovo, Sandzak, and 
Vojvodina departed.  In Kosovo, five members of the Pec ethnic 
Albanian communal leadership, on trial in early December for 
"violating the territorial integrity of the state," were 
questioned extensively in court about their contacts with the 
former CSCE observer mission, even though they pointed out that 
the mission had been present legally and with the permission of 
Serb authorities.

In a change from previous public statements that they would not 
cooperate with the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal, Serbian officials 
in 1994 stated they would offer limited cooperation with the 
Tribunal to the extent the law allowed.  Both the Serbian and 
Federal Constitutions forbid extradition.  The Government 
stated it will try those who committed war crimes within the 
country, and has begun proceedings in the case of the Vukovic 
brothers who are accused of killing Muslims in Bosnia.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

While federal and republic laws provide for equal rights to all 
citizens, regardless of ethnic group, religion, language, or 
social status and prohibits discrimination against women, in 
reality the system provides little protection to such groups.

     Women

Traditional patriarchal ideas of gender roles, which hold that  
women should be subservient to the male members of their 
family, have long subjected women to discrimination.  The 
hostile atmosphere of oppressive nationalism fostered by the 
regime's war on non-Serbs and the increasingly precarious 
financial situation of most families have exacerbated the 
traditionally high level of domestic violence.  The majority of 
Serb refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina moved in with 
relatives or friends and received only minimal support from 
international refugee agencies.  The strain of living for 
2 years in poverty and overcrowded conditions resulted in 
family violence, particularly wife beatings, which human rights 
organizations report was largely ignored by authorities.  While 
legal recourse is theoretically available to victims of 
domestic violence, few women, most of whom are fearful of being 
rejected by their family, are willing to risk making a formal 
complaint.  Police rarely investigate women's complaints 
seriously.

In the early 1990s, women's rights organizations in Serbia, 
originally formed around a strictly antiwar agenda, expanded 
the scope of their activities as they recognized the growing 
need to help female victims of the Yugoslav wars.  The Center 
for Antiwar Action, in cooperation with a number of women's 
rights groups, opened a hot line for rape victims.  The flood 
of calls overwhelmed the small staff, and programs geared 
towards assisting and counseling victims of rape have 
proliferated.  In the summer of 1994, two of the largest 
organizations, Women in Black and the SOS hot line, opened a 
center for juvenile females and sponsored assistance programs 
for women refugees in camps throughout the country.

The apolitical character of Serbia's feminist organizations 
allowed them to operate with little overt opposition from local 
authorities who, however, regularly ignored their protest 
demonstrations.  Women in Black continued to hold weekly silent 
protest meetings, for which they received explicit police 
permission.  Police, however, refused permission for a protest 
meeting that was to be held on a major Belgrade bridge in order 
to draw attention to the destruction of the Mostar bridge in 
Herzegovina.  Feminist groups organized and held conferences in 
Belgrade and Novi Sad with the participation of women activists 
from abroad.

Women are entitled to equal pay for equal work.  However, they 
are vastly underrepresented at the top levels of government, 
state-run industry, and academic institutions.  Maternity leave 
is usually granted for 1 year.  President Milosevic rejected a 
law limiting the availability of abortion as a restriction on 
women's rights, the first time the feminist community has found 
itself allied with the Serbian President.

     Children

Police violence against non-Serb children (see Section 1.c.) is 
the primary abuse.  Otherwise, there is no pattern of 
governmental or societal abuse against children, nor is child 
prostitution condoned.  Children are not conscripted into the 
army.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The ethnic minorities of Serbia-Montenegro suffered 
discrimination in all respects as the "FRY" continued its 
policy of "ethnic cleansing" as a means of creating "Greater 
Serbia" (see Section 1).  In addition to the abuses described 
elsewhere in this report, there were credible reports that 
qualified Muslims or ethnic Albanians continued to be fired 
from their jobs on the basis of religion or ethnicity.   
Members of ethnic minorities were badly treated in the armed 
forces in which they were viewed with suspicion and often 
outright hostility.  In Kosovo, court proceedings, formerly 
conducted in the defendant's language, are now conducted in 
Serbian; an interpreter is provided if necessary.

Traditional societal discrimination against the substantial 
Roma population remains widespread.  The two Roma parties are 
not well organized and do not play a role in the political life 
of the country commensurate with their numbers.  The Roma have 
the right to vote, and there is no legal discrimination.  
However, local authorities apparently condone and even 
participate in their harassment and intimidation.

     Religious Minorities

In the former Yugoslavia, religion and ethnicity are so closely 
intertwined as to be inseparable.  "Muslims," for example, are 
considered an ethnic rather than a religious minority, although 
they are increasingly referred to as "Serbs of Muslim faith" in 
official propaganda.

Serious discrimination and harassment of Serbia's religious 
minorities continued, especially in the Kosovo and Sandzak 
regions.  Violence against the Catholic minority in 
Vojvodina--largely made up of ethnic Hungarians and 
Croatians--is also a continuing problem.  Individual Catholics 
were targeted for harassment by Orthodox "Chetniks," and a 
number of Catholic churches were bombed (see Section 2.c.).

     People with Disabilities

There is no formal legislation to provide equal rights for the 
disabled.  Only public buildings are required to provide access 
for the disabled.  Plans for the Belgrade metro envisage 
elevator access for the disabled at all stops.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

All workers (except military personnel) have the legal right to 
form or join unions.  Unions are either official 
(government-affiliated) or independent organizations.  Workers 
in the official unions, whether Serb or non-Serb, have little 
real voice in their unions, and their bargaining leverage is 
circumscribed by the Government.  Consequently, they have 
achieved little in terms of bettering their condition.  They 
are ostensibly permitted to join the independent unions, but 
these are so weak that they have been largely ineffective.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

While this right is guaranteed in law, collective bargaining is 
rudimentary.  Individual unions tend to be very limited and 
pragmatic in their aims, unable to join with unions 
representing workers in other sectors and bargain together for 
a common purpose, such as to eliminate safety hazards in the 
workplace or to provide certain minimum health conditions.  The 
overall result is a highly fragmented labor organizational 
structure composed of workers who relate to the needs of their 
individual union but rarely to those of other workers.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced labor is prohibited by law and is not known to occur.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The minimum age for employment is 16, although in villages and 
farming communities it is not unusual to find younger children 
at work assisting their families.  With the fall in industrial 
production by two-thirds compared with 1989, factories and 
stores have retained only their most experienced and senior 
workers.  Over the past year it was extremely unusual to find a 
teenager in Belgrade working at any full-time or even part-time 
job.  Unemployment, which unofficially ran in excess of 50 
percent, was concentrated more highly among young, unskilled 
workers.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The economic decline, which began at the beginning in 1991 and 
was accelerated by the onset of U.N. economic sanctions in May 
1992, continued to exert a major influence on the conditions of 
work.  While the Government succeeded in stabilizing prices 
through much of 1994, a large gap remained between prices and 
wages.  By November the average monthly wage had risen to about 
$94 (255 dinars) at the current black market rates.  While 
there is no official poverty line in Serbia-Montenegro, banking 
and finance officials have used 250-300 dinars as an 
"unofficial" poverty level for the average wage earner.  The 
minimum wage, which is established in December by negotiation 
among the Government, the chambers of commerce, and the unions 
(both official and unofficial) was about $37 (90 dinars) at the 
black market exchange rate.

While the official workweek was listed as 40 hours, many 
employees worked fewer hours due to the economic slowdown.  
These employees remained, for the most part, on enterprise 
payrolls, continuing to draw a minimum monthly salary--between 
$29.50 and $59 (50 and 100 dinars)--plus food supplements as 
available.  The Government, which previously assumed 
responsibility for providing redundant workers with a minimum 
"unemployment" payment, shifted this responsibility in the last 
half of the year to enterprises.  Many enterprises attempted to 
trim these workers, but concerted action by both official and 
independent unions may have helped to prevent further massive 
layoffs in the economy.

Federal and republic laws and regulations regulate occupational 
health and safety, but enforcement is lax.

(###)

[end of document]

flag
bar

Department Seal

Return to 1994 Human Rights Practices report home page.
Return to DOSFAN home page.
This is an official U.S. Government source for information on the WWW. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.