The situation of human rights defenders (HRDs) in Serbia has improved significantly since the early 2000s. However, challenges remain and several human rights defenders suffered threats, attacks, intimidation and smear campaigns. The nationalist rhetoric depicting human rights defenders as unpatriotic remains widespread, especially in the political and media discourse. Instances of physical violence and attempted break-ins have also been reported.
Women human right defenders are particularly exposed to threats and smear campaigns, including from religious or far-right actors. In March 2014, the spokesperson of the Anti-Terrorist Unit of the Ministry of Interior, made a call on his facebook profile for football hooligans to “deal” with women's rights group Women in Black (WiB). The post was published after a silent vigil by WiB to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the start of the armed conflict in Serbia and Kosovo. In the ensuing period, the organisation has received an alarming number of threats. The following July, members of WiB were assaulted during the commemoration of the Srebrenica massacre.
LGBTI rights defenders face challenges especially when organising public events such as the gay pride parade. After denying permission to hold the Pride in 2011, 2012 and 2013 on security grounds, the march took place in 2014 under massive police protection. Pride organisers routinely receive threatening messages in connection to Pride or other public events.