Serbian Newspaper Publishes
29 July 2004
In its December 27–28, 2003 weekend edition, the Serbian daily newspaper Kurir printed in its "Joke of the Day" column a text suggesting that killing Roma is a legitimate recreational activity. The use of words such as "Gypsy", "hunting", and "killing" clearly constitutes incitement to racial hatred and discrimination as well as racially motivated violence targeting Roma. The text also describes Roma as people who scavenge food from garbage containers, thus holding them up to de-rision and belittling the serious social and existential problems faced by this minority in Serbia and throughout Europe.
By publishing the text at issue, Kurir acted in violation the Ser-bian Constitution, the Constitu-tional Charter of Serbia and Montenegro, the country's Char-ter on Human and Minority Rights and Civil Liberties and numerous binding international instruments containing a ban on hate speech and incitement to discrimination and racially motivated violence. On March 22, 2004, the ERRC, together with the Belgrade-based non-governmental organisations Humanitarian Law Centre (HLC) and Minorities Rights Centre (MRC) filed a direct joint civil action against Kurir with a court in Belgrade. In their lawsuit, the ERRC, HLC, MRC and Mr Petar Antic, the Romani head of the MRC, requested that the court find that the text constitutes hate speech and issue a ban on the paper publishing this or any other text that incites to discrimination, hatred or violence against Roma. They also asked that Kurir be ordered to print without comment the court's judgment in its entirety and pay financial compensation to Mr Antic for the mental distress suffered as a consequence of the violation of his personal dignity. Since the racist "joke" is currently still on the paper's Internet website, the ERRC, HLC, and MRC also asked the court to issue a mandatory injunction for its immediate removal.
(ERRC, HLC, MRC)