Lawyer Bozo Prelevic said on Dec. 8 that the president of the state is not authorized to decide whether or not police will be present at the environmental protests held on Saturdays, because the matter is within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs or, more specifically, its department for maintaining public peace.
"Regardless of what the president says, [that department] must do a security assessment and maintain peace and order. That is their legal obligation," Prelevic told BETA.
On Dec. 7, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that the police would not appear at future protests because "they cannot protect anyone acting against the law."
Prelevic maintained that the right to protest and freedom of speech are fundamental constitutional rights and are also recognized by the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Prelevic further said that Vucic's statement communicated that he does not view himself as the president of those who are protesting.
"If that is the case, then he is only the president of his party. [Therefore] he spoke as party president, not as president of the state," Prelevic explained. If a party president decides whether or not the police will be deployed to secure an event, Prelevic continued, then the police are in fact a partisan police force. If Serbia indeed has a partisan police force, then its people are living in a dictatorship, Prelevic concluded.