Human rights concerns arise following allegations of police torture in Serbia

In a recent incident in Serbia, Katarina (name changed) reported experiencing torture at the hands of the police after being detained. The alleged reason behind her detention was the discovery of condoms in her purse, coupled with her previous detainment for involvement in sex work.

Katarina maintains that she was not engaged in sex work at the time of her arrest and that she was merely in the wrong place at the wrong time. Despite her explanation, the police took her into custody, citing the condoms found in her possession as evidence of her involvement in sex work. Katarina further alleges that during her detention, the police subjected her to physical abuse, specifically twisting her arm, resulting in visible bruises on her forearm.

Upon learning about Katarina’s case, REActors promptly stepped in to assist her. Recognizing the severity of the situation, they referred Katarina to an organization equipped to provide her with legal support. This was crucial, as Katarina was initially uncertain about whom to approach for help.

Katarina’s case highlights potential human rights violations within the law enforcement system in Serbia. The arbitrary detention based on questionable evidence and the alleged use of physical force raises serious concerns about the treatment of individuals, particularly those engaged in sex work. This violence underscores the need for a thorough investigation into the conduct of the police officers involved and a broader examination of the human rights landscape in the country.

The reported incident involving Katarina sheds light on the challenges faced by individuals, especially key group representatives when interacting with law enforcement. The involvement of REActors is crucial in ensuring that victims receive the necessary support and access to legal resources.

As part of the regional campaign “Push forward! To end violence against women and girls”, REAct organized a series of webinars on how to counteract gender-based violence and how to qualitatively help women who come forward. Recordings of webinars in English, Ukrainian, and Russian are available below. In 2023, we encourage new listeners to view the webinar recordings. From November 25, 2023 to January 31, 2024, each participant receives a unique opportunity to take a short test and receive a personalized online certificate.

Visit useful materials on the REAct website for more useful courses andpublications. Operative data regarding human rights violations of vulnerable toHIV/AIDS communities is available as well on country data factsheets. Read more success stories of response here.