Call for Investigation into Whether or Not the Assault Against Limani Was Ethnically Motivated

February 26th, 2012 – Human rights organization are calling on the police and the office of the prosecutor to investigate whether or not the assault against Dželim Ljimani/ Xhelim Limani, which happened on February 23rd on the 43 bus line in Belgrade, was incited by prejudice based on racial and ethnic grounds. In that case, judicial authorities must take into consideration such motives as an aggravated circumstance.

According to media reports, Dželim Ljimani/Xhelim Limani was stabbed in the neck and the head, thus sustaining severe injuries, by two assaulters, while he was with his father on a 43 line bus in Belgrade. According to the same sources, this happened because Limani accidentally rubbed the box he was carrying against these persons as he was passing by. The assaulters were arrested after the incident and Limani was taken to the Emergency Centre, where he received treatment and in one moment his life was in danger.

Pursuant to the practice of the European Court of Human Rights and in relation to Articles 2, 3 and 14 of the European Convention for Human Rights, authorities of the high contracting parties are obliged to take all reasonable measures, when investigating violent incidents, to reveal any possible racist motive and to establish whether or not ethnic hatred and prejudice played a role in such events.  The existence of prejudice or hatred must not be ignored and the entire incident should be clarified in that sense, which has not been done in the case of assault against Limaj.

Human rights organizations would like to remind the general public that the European Court of Human Rights has also confirmed through its practice (cases Angelov and Petrov v. Bulgaria, Moldovan et al. v. Romania, Šečić v. Croatia) that authorities bear an obligation to take all reasonable measures in given circumstances in order to collect and secure evidence, to use all practical means to establish the truth, and render completely rational, unbiased, and objective decisions, without failing to establish suspicious facts, which could point to the racially motivated violence. Because of this, the police and the prosecution are obliged to investigate all elements of this criminal offence and inform the public about it without any delays.

Press release signed by:

Civil Rights Defenders
Youth Initiative for Human Rights
Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina
Humanitarian Law Center
Centre for Advance Legal Studies