Brankica Janković, the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality said that marking this year the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21 March is of particular importance primarily because of the migrant crisis which is a serious challenge that the modern society is facing today.
The Office of the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality received a very small number of complaints pertaining to discrimination against refugees and migrants and they were mainly related to media reporting which was seen as promoting prejudice and instigating intolerance.
Although freedom of speech is a guaranteed right, the Commissioner said that such freedom does not imply the liberty to violate other person’s dignity. The Commissioner stressed the significance of treating people who have fled their homes from war affected areas with tolerance and kindness, adding that the Serbian society is a good example of how human rights of refugees and migrants are being fully respected.
This year to the Office of the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality received a large number of complaints related to the discrimination of the Roma minority in different segments of life, ranging from healthcare protection to housing. UNHCR survey results give cause for concern as they indicate that internally displaced Romas are in the most disadvantaged position when compared to all other vulnerable groups in Serbia, even in comparison to the native Roma population.
Because of inherent dangers that racism and xenophobia present, it is necessary to stay alert at all times and keep in mind that eradicating such tendencies is a lengthy process while tolerance and accepting differences is something that is taught from an early age. Building a tolerant and modern society with strong institutions is of paramount importance, while each and every isolated and individual act of racism must be strongly condemned by all relevant stakeholders as well as the general public in Serbia, said the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality.