HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE RULE OF LAW IN THE REPUBLIC OF SERBIA; Congressional Record Vol. 161, No. 134
(Extensions of Remarks - September 17, 2015)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1312]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




       HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE RULE OF LAW IN THE REPUBLIC OF SERBIA

                                  _____
                                 

                         HON. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN

                              of maryland

                    in the house of representatives

                      Thursday, September 17, 2015

  Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise on the occasion of the visit of 
Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic to the United States and his meeting 
with Vice President Biden, to add my voice to the international 
criticism about human rights and the rule of law in the Republic of 
Serbia.
  In December 2012, Miroslav Miskovic, the president of Delta Holding 
was arrested and charged with a crime based on an outdated, 
internationally discredited provision of the Serbian criminal code that 
is a relic of the nation's communist past. He was charged with ``abuse 
of position by a responsible person'' (Article 234) for allegedly 
receiving market rate interest payments on legitimate commercial loans 
to a Serbian road construction company that was privatized in 2005. 
This is not only legal, but common in other European Countries.
  The State Department and the European Union have criticized 
Miskovic's arrest as an example of the ineffective judiciary, excessive 
use of pretrial detention and a denial of fair public trials. The State 
Department Human Rights Report states that Mr. Miskovic's pretrial 
detention was ``contrary to the well-established position of the 
European Court of Human Rights on the issue, that custody must not only 
be lawful, but also reasonable and necessary.'' The European Union, as 
part of Serbia's EU accession process, has called on the government to 
reform the provision of the Serbian criminal code under which Mr. 
Miskovic and 4,168 other individuals are charged. Mr. Miskovic's arrest 
is indicative of the Serbian justice system's serious need for reform.
  With Prime Minister Vucic's visit, the Serbian government is seeking 
to foster closer ties to the United States as it continues its efforts 
to join the European Union. While I share the U.S. government's 
appreciation for Serbia's contribution to Balkan stabilization, I 
believe any U.S. support for improved relations or for Serbian 
accession to the EU should depend on that country's commitment to 
political reform, the addressing of the lack of transparency in the 
government and genuine efforts to increase the independence of its 
judiciary. The repeal of Article 234 would go a long way toward 
establishing those goals.

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