Serbia: Journalist and human rights defender ‘International Criminal Tribunal’ dispute set for Strasbourg ruling

Tomorrow, a journalist convicted of insulting human rights activist Nataša Kandić, in the ‘Politika’ newspaper, will find out if Strasbourg judges back her complaint against Serbia.

Milisavljević v. Serbia (no. 50123/06)

The applicant, Ljiljana Milisavljević, is a Serbian national who was born in 1966 and lives in Belgrade. She was a journalist for Politika, a major Serbian daily newspaper.

The Politika article was published in Politika in September 2003, at a time when there was a heated public debate on the Serbian authorities’ cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (the “ICTY”).

There was also a high degree of animosity toward Kandić because of her involvement in investigating crimes committed by the Serbian forces during the armed conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and because she was one of the most vocal advocates for full cooperation with the ICTY.

Following the publication, Kandić started a private prosecution against Milisavljević, claiming that it had been written to portray her as a traitor to Serbia.

The domestic courts ultimately found that Milisavljević had committed the criminal offence of insult and gave her a judicial warning. The courts held that by failing to put one particular sentence in the article, namely “Kandić [had] been called a witch and a prostitute,” in quotation marks, she had tacitly endorsed the words as her own.

Relying on Article 10 (freedom of expression), Milisavljević complains about her criminal conviction, and alleges that it had resulted in her subsequent dismissal from Politika.

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