Court rulings on Roma rights cases in Yugoslavia

15 August 2001

The Belgrade-based non-governmental organisation Humanitarian Law Center (Fond za humanitarno pravo) reported on May 16, 2001, that the County Court in Niš had found twenty-year-old Mr Oliver Nikolić and twenty-year-old Ms Nataša Marković guilty of incitement to racial hatred, pursuant to paragraph 2 of Article 134 of the Yugoslav Penal Code. The verdict was brought in relation to the attack of Mr Nikolić and Ms Marković on a 15-year-old Romani boy, Dragiša Ajdarević, and his father, Mr Nebojša Ajdarević, in Niš, southern Serbia, on April 8, 2000 (see "Snapshots from Around Europe" in Roma Rights 2/2000; available at: Snapshots). The attackers, Mr Nikolić and Ms Marković, were sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for two years. This is the first time in Yugoslavia that the judicial authorities have regarded an attack against members of a minority as constituting incitement to racial hatred.

Other courts in Yugoslavia have recently failed to provide adequate judicial remedy in Roma rights cases. On May 25, 2001, the Humanitarian Law Center reported that the Fourth Municipal Prosecutor's Office in Belgrade had dismissed a complaint filed by the organisation against police officers who had used force to evict Roma from the Antena settlement near Belgrade on June 8, 2000 (see "Snapshots around Europe" in Roma Rights 2/2000; on-line at: Snapshots). Despite the fact that the Centre submitted a list of witnesses to the eviction, and medical records of injuries sustained by two Romani individuals during the eviction, the court dismissed the complaint.

(Humanitarian Law Center)


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