Urgent resolution on human rights in Serbia adopted in the European Parliament
STRASBOURG – The European Parliament today adopted an urgent resolution on forced labor in the Linglong factory and environmental protests in Serbia.
The resolution was supported by 586 MEPs, while 53 were against and 44 abstained. The joint motion for a resolution was supported by the European People’s Party, the Socialists and Democrats, Renew Europe, the Greens / ALE and the European Conservatives and Reformists.
The resolution expressed concern over recent findings by human rights organizations regarding the living and working conditions of Vietnamese workers during the construction of the Linglong factory.
The document recalls that there have been serious allegations against the Chinese tire company Linglong Tire in Zrenjanin, northern Serbia, regarding the working conditions of 500 Vietnamese workers.
âThe European Parliament urges the Serbian authorities to carefully investigate the case and to ensure respect for fundamental human rights in the factory, in particular labor rights, to provide the EU with the findings of its investigations and to request accounts to authors â, indicates the text.
The report also recalled that mass environmental protests have been taking place across Serbia since November 27, 2021.
âThe European Parliament has also expressed its deep concern at the increasing violence of extremist groups and hooligans against peaceful demonstrations for the environment; deplores the force used by the police against the demonstrators; condemns the violent behavior of hooligans towards peaceful protesters, âthe resolution reads.
The EP also condemned, in this context, the role of hooligan groups in protecting the mural of convicted war criminal Ratko MladiÄ in Belgrade, and the corresponding incidents which revealed close links between the hooligans and the police.
She expressed concern at the apparent reluctance of the authorities to ensure the permanent removal of the mural, contrary to both the wishes of the tenants and formal municipal decisions.
The EP expressed its deep concern over “serious problems of corruption and the rule of law in the field of the environment, the general lack of transparency and the environmental and social impact assessments of infrastructure projects, including Chinese investments and loans as well as multinational companies like Rio Tinto â.
During the debate, Miriam Lexmann (PPE) said that the construction of the Linglong tire factory is emblematic of China’s growing influence and its economic footprint in the Western Balkans. She added that the protests of the Serbian people show that they care about their country and their environment.
âI welcome the decision to withdraw the expropriation law and investigate the working conditions at the Linglong factory,â Lexmann said.
Tonino Picula (S&D) said that it is not often that there is an emergency case of human rights violation involving a candidate country.
âIn Serbia, we often have cases of foreign investments that do not meet EU standards. Cluster 4 was opened recently and yet we see the law that was supposed to really harm the environment. Thanks to the protest, the law was withdrawn, âPicula said.
Klemen GroÅ¡elj (Renew Europe) stressed that this was not a resolution against Serbia and the Serbian people, but a warning to the Serbian government.
âIt is totally unacceptable for a candidate country. Serbia is preparing to enter the EU and hooligans have attacked the demonstrators, which clearly shows that the Serbian government has difficulties in implementing rights such as the right to demonstrate peacefully, âsaid GroÅ¡elj.
According to Viola von Cramon (Verts / ALE), âit is nothing new that Serbia is a captured state with a very weak reform recordâ. What is new, she said, is the way Vietnamese workers are treated in Serbia.
âThis is what we call modern slavery. No water, food and heat. Is this the image the EU wants to send to the world? Another subject, but related, is that of the protests taking place now. Why the Serbian government and Rio Tinto are keeping secrets about what to do with lithium mining in Loznica. Citizens are rightly worried, âsaid von Cramon.