Demonstration against the law on expropriation and the arrest by the police of demonstrators the day before, Saturday, November 27. Photo: Ne davimo Beograd
The Serbian Bar Association, AKS, urged Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Sunday not to enact the contested expropriation law by signing amendments to the law that parliament passed on November 26.
Protesters say laws are being changed to favor big foreign investors in Serbia, especially Rio Tinto, the Anglo-American mining giant, which plans to dig for lithium in Serbia.
Authorities have denied the claims, saying amended laws are needed to speed up large infrastructure projects.
The AKS said in a letter that the bill should be sent back to the National Assembly for reconsideration, listing its objections to the law.
“When you encroach on the sphere of the owners, the state should keep in mind that this is a right protected by the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia but also by the Convention for the Protection of the Rights of the human rights and fundamental freedoms, “said media lawyer Vladimir. Terzic said.
“Allowing only five days for the owner of the property to make a decision on the expropriation proposal is inappropriate,” [and is] obviously calculated for the seizure of goods in a legal manner, ”he added.
“The government’s goal is to pay citizens as little as possible for property, and since peasants and their fields are currently targeted for highway passage and the formation of mines, it is clear that these people do not have the knowledge and the ability to come forward in such a short time and hire a lawyer as an expert who would help them, ”Terzic stressed.
The weekend saw several protests by environmental activists and opposition supporters against amendments to the referendum law and the expropriation law.
After the expropriation law was passed on Friday, protesters blocked roads and bridges the next day. Besides the capital, Belgrade, similar actions were organized in several other cities of Serbia, including Novi Sad, Zrenjanin, Sabac and Kragujevac.
Dozens of protesters were arrested at roadblocks, while videos showed unprovoked police violence against some protesters.
In Sabac, masked hooligans linked to the ruling Serbian Progressive Party attacked protesters with sticks, hammers and even a bulldozer. The opposition called the violence a coordinated action and yet another defeat for the rule of law in the country.
But Prime Minister Ana Brnabic tweeted on Saturday that the protests were not democracy but fascism, saying the protesters “forbid everyone to move”, although the blockade was only put in place to one o’clock.
President Vucic, meanwhile, said on Sunday that he had no right to return something to parliament that he didn’t like, but only that which did not comply with the constitution.
He also said that he was waiting for his legal team’s opinion on the mentioned laws, and that he would then decide.
He added that the expropriation law had nothing to do with Rio Tinto but was prompted by the construction of the national stadium and the infrastructure road from Surcin to New Belgrade. “That’s the goal, it has nothing to do with Rio Rio,” said Vucic.