The Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Serbia (YIHR Serbia) demands the immediate dismissal of the Minister of Education, Branko Ruzic, due to the political instrumentalization of the tragedy at Elementary School “Vladislav Ribnikar”. We also call for accountability of Veselin Milic, the chief of the Belgrade police, for publicizing the list of names of the minor victims and mentioning the juvenile offender’s name. The legality of disclosing this information must be reviewed by the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Protection of Personal Data, the Ombudsman of Serbia, the Internal Control Sector of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Prosecutor office.

In a humiliating statement made yesterday at a press conference for the Government of Serbia, Minister Ruzic claimed that “the system did not fail” and blamed “Western values, the Internet, and video games” for the suffering of children, teachers, and security personnel. Instead of accepting responsibility and resigning, he seized the chance to irresponsibly exploit the terrible tragedy for political gain.

Dismissing Minister Ruzic would be a significant political act on behalf of the Serbian government and serve as a just punishment for the remarks made at this sensitive and traumatic moment. The citizens of Serbia, especially children, desperately need an effective system for the prevention of various forms of violence and education about the importance of mental health instead of excuses to avoid responsibility.