UNESCO: The authorities in Serbia to explain criminal allegations against social work centers

UNESCO: Serious criminal activities in social work centers in Serbia.
UNESCO: Serious criminal activities in social work centers in Serbia.

UNESCO: The authorities in Serbia to explain criminal allegations against social work centers

UNESCO: Serious criminal activities in social work centers

Prepared By: Duško Velkovski – Investigative Journalist at IFJ – International Federation of Journalists, EFJ – European Federation of Journalists

The European Department of Bioethics of the UNESCO, called on the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, to address the contradictory data of the number of infected and dead from COVID-19 in social protection institutions as well as the reports of child abuse and other crimes in social work centers. And to explain what has been done to stop it and if the suspects are being prosecuted. 

The Department of Bioethics of UNESCO has said that they insist on a new proposal to give police more authority related to social work centers to protect children and other endangered groups in Serbia, which have been known to be very vulnerable, especially during the current pandemic. 

They proposed that the new legal acts would allow the police to confiscate items from social work centers, detain workers of those centers for up to 48 hours, as well as those involved in crime-related activities (those may be judges, government officials, and others) with a request to extend their custody until the investigation is over. 

The head of UNESCO stated that after the “useless letters” sent to them from the office of Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and the government responsible for Labor, Employment, Veterans’ Affairs and Social Affairs they insisted that the appropriate acts be passed immediately to provide police with the reports, the authority to intervene in the social centers and for Vučić to make a statement. 

UNESCO: Serious criminal activities in social work centers 

“The answer we received from the Prime Minister's Office did not dedicate a single word to the key issue concerning the contradictory data on the number of infected and deceased from COVID-19 in social protection institutions,” the statement reads and adds that the proposal was sent to Vučić after the letter on controversial criminal issues was submitted to the private mail of the Head of the Department prof. Dr. Vojin Rakić. 

According to the statement, the head of UNESCO for Europe asked for an amendment to the letter “regarding very serious criminal activities in social work centers, such as abuse and neglect of children, abuse of their parents, child trafficking, allocation of children to foster families for money and even murders which were extensively reported by the media ”.

Crime in social work centers 

He also asked for information on the activities of the Government and President Vučić in that area, and the measures they have taken or intend to take to eliminate “the mentioned irregularities and criminal activities in the centers for social work”. 

“At the same time, the initiative was repeated that, based on suspicions of crime in social work centers, the police should be allowed to confiscate items from these centers, as well as to detain social workers who are suspected of engaging in or have committed crimes that affect the most vulnerable parts of the population,” the statement said. 

However, as they said, to the letter that arrived at the private address of the head of the Department, an act of the Sector for Family Care and Social Protection in which, while denying any responsibility of the government and the administration, and that “the media should not always be believed”. They also stated that individual examples of crime should be cited and that changes to the criminal legislation are not within their power.

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