The opinion was issued in the procedure regarding 49 complaints of citizens of the Municipality of Požega due to discrimination against members of the Roma national minority. The complaint states that in the intersection of Kralja Petra and Kosovskih junaka streets, for a long period of time, there is graffiti “Gypsies stink”. It is further stated that the graffiti creates a rift towards the Roma community and calls for national intolerance, and that it is disputable why the Municipality of Požega did not remove this graffiti. Having in mind that the complaints referred to the same legal matter and the same factual situation, a single procedure was conducted. In the statement on the complaint, it is stated that the Municipality, after receiving the act of the Commissioner, visited the location and determined that at the real estate – the facility built of solid material “Transformer Station”, owned by PE “Electric Power Industry of Serbia”, built on publicly owned land – owned Municipality of Požega, the graffiti “Gypsies stink” was written. They further stated that the Municipality condemns and opposes such forms of discrimination. It was pointed out that the building on which the graffiti was written is located on the outskirts of the city settlement, that it is completely isolated from the access paths and that it is located in a place with very low traffic, which is why it is not easily visible. It was further added that the graffiti, in a pejorative sense, refers to the fans of the most popular sports club in the Republic of Serbia, and not to fellow citizens of Roma ethnicity. From the submitted evidence, it is indisputable that the facility is located on land in public ownership – the Municipality of Požega. After an inspection of the photo of the wall on which the graffiti is written, it was determined that besides the graffiti, there are no symbols of any club, or some other text that would indicate that it is related to a certain fan group. The Statute of the Municipality of Požega prescribes the competence of the Municipality, among which, to regulate and ensure the performance of communal activities and local transport, to take care of the construction, reconstruction and maintenance of local roads and streets and other public facilities of municipal importance. The Municipal Assembly, in order to exercise its rights and duties and to meet the needs of the local population, establishes services, public companies, institutions and organizations and supervises their work. The Municipal Assembly of Požega established the public company “Development Agency” Požega, which is responsible for organizing and managing infrastructure projects throughout the Municipality, such as: land, other facilities, watercourses, bridges, roads, lighting, communal services, and others, in accordance with the general acts of the founder. During the procedure, the Municipality did not provide the Commissioner with evidence that it had done anything to remove the disputed graffiti. Having in mind the rule on shifting the burden of proof and submitted evidence, the Commissioner gave the opinion that the Municipality of Požega, by failing to take measures within its competence to remove graffiti: “Gypsies stink”, violated the provisions of Article 6 in conjunction with Art. 12 and 24 of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination. The Municipality of Požega was recommended to take measures within its competence to remove the disputed graffiti from the Transformer Station building located on the corner of Kralja Petra and Kosovskih junaka streets in Požega, and to take care not to violate anti-discrimination regulations in the future.
COMMISSIONER FOR THE PROTECTION OF EQUALITY