The Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors (GNDEM) expresses its deep concern with increasing attacks on the nonpartisan citizen election observers, the Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability (CRTA), in Serbia following the December 2023 snap elections. These attacks from government officials threaten the ability of CRTA to legally observe elections and puts their safety at risk. The situation reflects significant worsening of conditions for citizen election observers and wider civil society actors and human rights defenders in Serbia.

CRTA’s observation reports indicate severe irregularities on election day that threaten the integrity of the elections. Since the December elections, CRTA has faced verbal abuse, intimidation and incitement of intolerance against its observers from multiple government officials that aim to discredit CRTA’s findings and falsely accuse CRTA of attempting to overthrow constitutional order. These attacks follow the physical attack on CRTA observers on election day, where an observers’ vehicle was smashed by unknown assailants at a local police station as they were reporting election irregularities.

GNDEM stands in solidarity with CRTA and all nonpartisan citizen election observers who face threats against their right to observe elections and defend the right of citizens to exercise their vote. GNDEM condemns all forms of threats, harassment and violence against nonpartisan citizen election observers.

As the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders stated, election observers, including nonpartisan citizen election observers, are human rights defenders who serve to protect civil and political rights of citizens and that “Member States are urged to take all necessary steps to establish conditions that allow national and international election observers to effectively do their work, and to protect them from any violence, threats, retaliation, adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of their legitimate exercise of their rights and freedoms.”

We urge the Serbian authorities to hold accountable its officials who are attacking CRTA and adhere to its responsibility to protect human rights defenders per international law. GNDEM also appeals to international and regional observation missions and institutions to support CRTA and human rights defenders in Serbia.

Endorsed by:

Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL)

Red de Observación e Integridad Electoral - Acuerdo de Lima (RedOIE)

Elections Support Network for Southern Africa (ESN-SA)