Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1985

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is a
multinational, federal state comprising six republics, one of
which has two autonomous provinces. The League of Communists
of Yugoslavia (Communist Party) maintains a monopoly on
political power. The ideology of Yugoslav communism and
Socialist self-management differs substantially from the
highly centralized and rigid Soviet model of Communist rule.
The form of Marxism-Leninism that Yugoslavia professes is
increasingly pragmatic, providing opportunities for open
discussion and flexible decisions. In the Yugoslav political
system, the party is decentralized so that the republic and
provincial party authorities wield power that is seldom
challenged by the central party bureaucracy. In the economic
system. Socialist self -management theoretically and legally
provides that the workers run their own enterprises.
Extensive, private, small-scale farming is permitted, as are
some private enterprises in services and small-scale
State security and uniformed police are under the jurisdiction
of Federal and Republic secretariats for internal affairs.
Security and police forces are generally subject to, and
heedful of, overall direction from the political level,
although significant abuses have been alleged.
Struggling through the very severe winter of 1984-85 and a
drought in the summer of 1985, the Yugoslav economy was unable
to deal effectively with its long-term problems of high
unemployment, a large foreign debt, and persistent and rising
inflation. Slowness in reaching agreement on reform measures
to implement the stabilization program was partially to blame.
Although the fundamental tenets of Socialist self -management
and the federal structure of the State are among the declining
number of taboos which cannot be questioned, there is
relatively open debate within and outside the League of
Communists on the implementation of these concepts. Key
topics frequently discussed in the open include the boundaries
of permissible political and cultural expression, economic
reform, and the functioning of the political system. Some
issues, however, such as the rights of and the relations among
ethnic groups, appear to be so sensitive that free speech is
not tolerated. The multiethnic composition of the population
and the tragic internecine strife between Croats and Serbs
during World War II have made Yugoslav leaders wary of
separatist sentiment. Various Yugoslav governments have taken
stern measures to repress displays of "nationalism."
The human rights situation in Yugoslavia improved marginally
during the year but was still marred by several negative
developments. The major political trial of the so-called
"Belgrade Six," which concluded in February 1985, resulted in
the effective release of three of six defendants and in light
sentences for the three defendants who were convicted.
Appeals courts further reduced these sentences and freed
another of the accused entirely. Arrests and convictions for
what in Yugoslavia are called "verbal crimes" continued at a
lower but still significant level in comparison to 1984, most
often on charges involving "nationalism."
Continuing Serb-Albanian antagonism in south Serbia and the
autonomous province of Kosovo produced a number of violent
incidents, and a small but steady stream of Albanian
"nationalists" and irridentists were jailed on a variety of
charges. Nationalist incidents in other parts of the country
also caused concern for authorities.
In 1985, political and economic issues were debated more
openly in the press and public. The Serbian Orthodox Church
was permitted to resume construction of a major cathedral in
Belgrade. Debate also continued on change in the political
system, such as multiple candidates for political office, and
on reform of the criminal justice system to eliminate some
categories of political offenses.
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including
Freedom from:
a. Political Killing
There were no instances in Yugoslavia during 1985 of alleged
killing by government forces. In the autonomous province of
Kosovo, an ethnic Albanian policeman was killed by an ethnic
Albanian teenager, who some said had been recruited to do so
by an Albanian nationalist organization
In the past, Serb-Albanian ethnic tensions in the Kosovo have
resulted in violence and sometimes fatalities. Attacks by
members of one nationality on another continued at a low but
steady level in 1985, but no deaths were reported.
b. Disappearance
No instances of prolonged or permanent disappearance of
persons inside Yugoslavia were reported in 1985.
c. Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or
Although both Yugoslav law and the Constitution forbid
torture, various sources report that people have been beaten,
maltreated, or threatened during pretrial detention or while
serving sentences. A number of witnesses at the "Belgrade
Six" trial charged police with using threats, physical
intimidation, and beatings to obtain testimony. Sarajevo
sociology professor Vojislav Sesel j , serving a sentence for
hostile propaganda, was reportedly beaten by his jailers.
"Belgrade Six" defense attorney Vladimir Seks charged Yugoslav
prison authorities with widespread abuse of prisoners' rights
and dignity through beatings and other degrading and cruel
practices. Some ethnic Albanian prisoners from Kosovo
complained of physical and mental abuse by authorities during
pretrial detention and while serving their sentences.
The Yugoslav press has reported instances of police misconduct
for which police officials have been reprimanded, suspended,
and subjected to criminal prosecution on charges of excessive
use of force and abuse of citizens' rights. One case of
alleged police misconduct in 1985 was the manhandling of
London Observer and Daily Mail correspondent Peter
Hadzi-Ristic by police in Mostar incidental to his arrest on
charges of making hostile statements. No charges were brought
against the police.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, and Exile
"Political crime", as defined by the Yugoslav Criminal Code,
consists of attempts to overthrow the constitutional order or
to undermine the country's territorial integrity, unity, or
basic constitutional system. "Political crime" includes a
number of broad, imprecise categories, such as
"counterrevolutionary acts," "association (for the purpose of)
hostile activity", "insulting the reputation of the President
of the Republic," "fostering national hatred," and "hostile
propaganda." Enforcement of these laws varies widely from
republic to republic, with the result that people have been
jailed in some parts of Yugoslavia for acts which in other
parts of the country rarely, if ever, result in criminal
sanctions. Authorities remain particularly sensitive to
manifestations of nationalism and to contacts with a range of
emigre groups considered subversive.
Pretrial confinement in political cases does not usually
occur, and the system of bail used for other criminal offenses
remains applicable.
Yugoslav legal procedures derive from Napoleonic law and are
generally followed in all, including political, cases.
Arrests are conducted pursuant to warrants, defendants are
brought before a judge within 24 hours of arrest, individuals
arrested for political reasons are usually charged with the
specific sections of the Criminal Code dealing with political
crimes, and defendants have the right to independent counsel.
The Criminal Code allows the arrest and imprisonment of
Yugoslav citizens for acts considered political offenses under
Yugoslav law, even though they were committed abroad and were
not crimes in the country in which they took place. Such
cases are often based on the expression of views hostile to
the Yugoslav regime or association with anti-Yugoslav groups.
In 1985 such instances involved Yugoslav dual nationals or
guest workers resident in the Federal Republic of Germany,
Austria, and Switzerland.
There is no information to indicate that forced labor is
practiced in Yugoslavia.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
Although ordinary criminal trials are almost always open to
the public, not all political trials are. Yugoslav political
authorities usually do not actively interfere in judicial
proceedings concerning political cases. However, substantial
evidence exists that in some cases Federal, Republic, and
provincial political authorities have sought to orchestrate
the trials of those charged with political crimes. Some human
rights organizations believe that the outcome in political
cases in Yugoslavia is predetermined. Others, including some
critics of the Government, hold that the courts have
considerable independence, particularly in determining the
length and type of sentences, if not innocence or guilt.
Developments in 1985 evinced considerable evidence of
appellate court independence. In several important political
cases, appellate courts either altered the charges or reduced
sentences, particularly in the cases of Vojislav Seselj and
the "Belgrade Six." In these cases, appellate courts threw
out convictions on two charges by lower courts, in one case
freeing the defendant entirely.
Although many persons accused of political offenses are able
to find able, energetic counsel, there are cases in which
government authorities seek to intimidate or chastise
attorneys who take political cases. Several of the defense
counsel for the "Belgrade Six" have suffered reprisals from
the authorities. For example, although Vladimir Seks was
convicted in 1981 for "hostile propaganda", government
determination that he serve his sentence in 1985 probably
stemmed from his active participation in the defense at the
Belgrade trial.
The precise number of current political prisoners is very
difficult to determine. Official figures are hard to obtain
and frequently contradictory. According to last July's report
by the public prosecutor covering calendar year 1984, the
authorities brought charges against 466 persons in political
cases, a decrease from 1983. Only in Kosovo did the number of
political cases rise — by some 39 percent; 275 persons, or 59
percent of the total accused of political crimes were of
Albanian nationality. Nearly two-thirds of the political
cases were so-called "verbal crimes", that is, charges arising
from something the accused said or wrote.
The Yugoslav Federal Secretariat for Internal Affairs (i.e.
the security and police apparatus) reported that in 1984
police brought 809 criminal (i.e. felony) complaints and 4,268
misdemeanor charges against persons accused of "acting in a
hostile fashion," including those accused of espionage or
terrorism. Figures for 1985 are not yet available, but the
trends show a drop in political cases in Slovenia and Serbia
proper, and a slight rise in political crimes, particularly
nationalist activity, in Kosovo and parts of Dalmatia
(Croatia) and Bosnia-Hercegovina.
At present, there may be some 450 to 500 political prisoners
in Kosovo. Countrywide, the number of political prisoners may
be between 600 and 1,000.
f . Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or
Yugoslav authorities are widely believed to interfere in the
private lives of citizens. Allegations of such interference
are most common from those citizens actively engaged in
nonofficial political activity. Although the judicial system
provides elaborate safeguards concerning procedures for
conducting searches, these safeguards are sometimes abused.
The most widely publicized charges of illegal searches during
1985 were made by defendants and lawyers at the "Belgrade Six"
trial. Many Yugoslavs also believe that authorities eavesdrop
on conversations, read mail, and tap telephones.
Yugoslav citizens are generally free to receive and read
foreign publications. Infrequently, the import or sale of a
particular issue of a foreign publication will be banned,
usually because the issue contains a story which the
authorities believe presents false or hostile information
about Yugoslavia. The publications of certain Yugoslav emigre
groups are considered hostile in themselves, and their
importation, possession, or sale is frequently subject to
criminal charges.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Rights, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
During 1985 Yugoslavia continued its slow and at times
halting, but generally acknowledged, movement toward greater
openness and freedom of speech and press. In theory, both the
Yugoslav Constitution and Yugoslav law affirm these freedoms.
The Government grants some latitude to what it considers
non-nationalist and nonthreatening oral expressions of
disagreement with government policy. The authorities tolerate
considerable commentary and criticism in academic and some
quasi-official public forums. Nonetheless, a few subjects
remain taboo, such as changing the political status of the
autonomous province of Kosovo and interpreting the history and
present state of relations between Serbs and ethnic
Albanians. Ethnic Albanian professors at Pristina University
have been criticized in the press, and several have been
dismissed, for alleged Albanian "nationalism" in their
teaching and writing.
The authorities also seek to punish allegedly derogatory or
inflammatory ethnic statements which they consider
incendiary. Such "hostile" oral statements and other forms of
personal expression (e.g. , painting slogans) are grounds for
criminal prosecution. For example, "Belgrade Six" defense
lawyer Vladimir Seks served a 7-month sentence in 1985 for
alleged pro-Nazi statements made in an Osijek cafe in 1981.
He allegedly complained that everything was rotten in
Yugoslavia, insulted Tito, and suggested that Yugoslavia
needed someone like Hitler to restore order. He was also
disbarred for 10 years. British journalist Peter
Hadzi-Ristic, although in the end charged only with disturbing
the peace, was arrested and charged in August 1985 for
"hostile statements" made to two strangers in a Mostar
restaurant .
In general, the autonomy of newspaper publishing houses has
increased markedly in recent years. A new Federal press law
was adopted in July 1985 which its authors widely touted as
facilitating popular access to more abundant and varied
information. Press criticism of government policies and
proposals concerning domestic political and economic issues is
frequent. There is also ample criticism of the Federal -
Cabinet and of the League of Communists at all levels, but
criticism of the state Presidency is rarer.
However, both Yugoslav law and practice impose some
restrictions on freedom of the press and freedom to publish.
Public prosecutors have the authority to ban the publication
and sale of books or periodicals if their content is deemed
"hostile." Yugoslav authorities claim that this power is
rarely used and that only seven books were banned in
Yugoslavia during 1984. However, this figure can be
misleading, as some publications have been restrained or
discouraged without resort to formal legal procedures. For
example, in early 1985 two Belgrade publishing houses dropped
plans to issue collections of the work of Slobodan Jovanovic,
historian and minister in the pre-World War II Yugoslav
Government, after both government and party officials
denounced the proposed publications. Banning of books is
often a local option, and standards of what is unacceptable
vary widely throughout Yugoslavia. For example, the popular
novel "Noz" (the knife) by Vuk Draskovic remains banned in
Sarajevo, Bosnia-Hercegovina, but is freely sold in Serbia.
Although there is no prepublication censorship of the print
and broadcast media, the authorities exercise indirect
oversight through publication boards, and the editorial staff
relies on self-censorship. Nevertheless, journalists and
writers have tried to breach previous limits with mixed
results. For example, a new, irreverent and iconoclastic
magazine. Dinar, failed after only one issue in April 1985
because of a barrage of political criticism. In October 1985,
Knizevne Novine, the organ of the Serbian Writers Union, was
criticized by the Belgrade party organization for publishing
materials which allegedly undermined the basic values of the
Yugoslav system. The editors of the publication responded
that its critics were falsifying the charges and were guilty
of predictable repressiveness.
Similarly in book-publishing, the authorities generally
provide only loose political oversight. Police and
prosecutors intervene rarely. Although works by some authors,
such as Milovan Djilas, have long been banned, many publishers
and writers have been testing the limits of the permissible, a
process which has resulted in occasional clashes with the
authorities. The works of Soviet and other Eastern European
dissidents are published in large press runs and sold widely.
The Polish Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz was feted by the
Yugoslav Union of Writers when he visited Belgrade in mid-1985
to promote a new edition of his works. In early 1985 the
publication of Serbian writer Dobrica Cosic's novel, "The
Sinner", became an issue because of its allegedly unfavorable
treatment of the Communist Party between the two world wars.
Although senior politicians attacked the book sharply, Cosic
suffered no reprisals. In late 1985 the publication, with a
government subsidy, of Veselin Djuretic's "The Allies and the
Yugoslav Wartime Drama", a revisionist history of World War II
in Yugoslavia, aroused controversy. Djuretic was accused of
rehabilitating the Cetniks, Serbian national opponents of
Tito's partisans during the war. Despite the furor caused by
the book, Djuretic has thus far suffered only minor reprisals
(loss of party membership), and his work remains in
During 1985 there continued to be considerable discussion in
the Yugoslav press and public over the desirability of
reforming the Criminal Code to eliminate so-called verbal
crimes. Despite their discussion, it appears that such reform
will not occur soon.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Public political demonstrations are permitted only by official
organizations and generally only in support of government
policies. Others are usually suppressed. Public gatherings
and meetings of private organizations are permitted but must
be registered with the authorities. Regular meetings of the
Serbian Philosophical Society, which has been critical of the
authorities' handling of domestic dissent and other domestic
policies, continued to be tolerated in 1985. When police
interrupted a meeting of the Serbian Writers' Union in early
1985 in which government policies had been harshly criticized,
there was widespread press support for the Union's protest,
and local police later admitted an error. In May 1985,
Slovene authorities tolerated a brief march in Ljubljana
protesting the Government's military parade in honor of V-E
The future of private gatherings remains problematical. The
acquittal of some, and light sentences for others, of the
"Belgrade Six" left the status of Belgrade's so-called "Open
University" up in the air, but the gatherings reportedly have
continued. Intellectuals critical of the Government have
expressed confidence that it will not soon again attempt to
disrupt or raid peaceful gatherings in private homes.
However, authorities have taken other steps to harass critical
intellectuals or so-called "dissidents", such as police
c[uestioning of colleagues and supervisors at their workplaces.
Trade unions are organized geographically by republic and
province, and by trade within these boundaries. They are,
however, no longer simply "transmission belts" of party
authority and control. Under Yugoslavia's system of
sel f -management , unions play a significant role in
representing workers' interests in the management of
enterprises, including the distribution and levels of income,
the determination of working conditions, and the settlement of
disputes. Union leaders play a significant role in the
political system in advocacy of worker interests on such
matters as the impact of inflation, standard of living, and
wage policies .
Strikes, often referred to as "work stoppages, " are neither
explicitly legal nor illegal. They occur with increasing
frequency, usually for local reasons. Most strikes involve
either the amount or distribution of personal incomes within
the work force of a particular enterprise. They usually are
settled quickly, after consultation between the workers or
their representatives in the larger enterprises and the
management .
In 1985 the number of strikes in Yugoslavia almost doubled (to
about 600) and involved one-third more workers. The
authorities were especially concerned that strikes at several
large enterprises would result in greater economic hardship, a
continuing fall in the standard of living, and more extensive
labor unrest.
The Confederation of Trade Unions of Yugoslavia is a member of
the International Labor Organization (ILO). In early 1985 the
ILO released a report, resulting from a 1983 visit to
Yugoslavia, on the status of labor and trade unions in
Yugoslavia with the major focus being on the implementation of
the self-management principle. The Yugoslavs accepted the
study with few reservations.
c. Freedom of Religion.
Yugoslavia is a multireligious state. Most Yugoslav believers
are members of the Roman Catholic Church, of the Serbian or
Macedonian Orthodox Churches, or of the Islamic faith. Since
World War II, the religiously observant Jewish community has
numbered only several thousand persons. There is no official
or favored religion; the Government officially encourages
atheism. Freedom to practice religion is guaranteed under
Yugoslav law, but proselytizing is outlawed. Religious
communities have their own publications sold by subscription
or at churches, although not at public kiosks. Their contacts
with coreligionists abroad are not restricted.
The building of new churches and mosques requires government
permission. Muslims have succeeded in erecting or renovating
many mosques in Bosnia and have recently obtained permission
to construct a large new mosque in Zagreb. In Belgrade, the
Serbian Orthodox church in 1985 received authorization after
40 years to recommence construction of St. Sava Cathedral,
originally begun before World War II. The rededication of the
site of the cathedral was marked in May 1985 with a gathering
of at least 10,000 church officials, believers, government
representatives, and curious onlookers. The Governnient
allowed several other religious gatherings of equal size in
various parts of Yugoslavia during 1985, including a major
Roman Catholic gathering in Djakovo at which Cardinal Casaroli
of the Holy See spoke before an assemblage of European
Cardinals, Yugoslav Government officials, and thousands of
ordinary believers. Authorities also continued to tolerate
large-scale pilgrimages by domestic and foreign Catholics to
Medjugorje, a small village in Bosnia-Hercegovina where the
Virgin Mary is said to have appeared before several children.
There is some discrimination against religious believers of
all faiths; for example, a party member who has his children
baptized risks expulsion from the party. Some party officials
have criticized this punishment. Constraints on occasional
attendance at services and religious instruction of children
vary from region to region. All three major faiths make
vigorous efforts to provide religious instruction to youth.
Conflicts between the State and Yugoslav religious communities
develop when the latter attempt to engage in what the
authorities consider "nationalist" or political activities.
The authorities regard ties between Yugoslav Muslims and
Islamic fundamentalist groups with suspicion. They regularly
criticise Catholic Church organizations in Yugoslavia for
alleged support of Croatian nationalism and political
activism. They have also criticized the Serbian Orthodox
Church, less intensely, for Serbian nationalism. They
occasionally charge individual priests and Muslim imams with
political offenses, usually related to "nationalism."
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
Freedom of movement within the country is guaranteed by the
Constitution and permitted in practice. However, many ethnic
Serbs believe that the out-migration of ethnic Serbs from the
predominantly ethnic Albanian Kosovo province is the result of
anti-Serbian behavior on the part of ethnic Albanians
(including personal threats or occasional violent acts, forced
sale of property, or vandalism) . This has been the subject of
public debate among political figures.
Almost all Yugoslavs are able to emigrate, seek temporary
employment abroad, and visit foreign countries at will. Half
of the country's population possesses valid passports, and no
exit permits are required to visit the more than 135 countries
with which Yugoslavia has diplomatic or consular relations.
Yugoslav Jews (and many non-Jews) freely visit Israel, with
which Yugoslavia has no diplomatic relations. Some Yugoslavs
are denied passports either temporarily or permanently on
national security, political, or criminal grounds. Over
600,000 Yugoslav workers, some with family members, are
employed as "guest workers" in Western Europe.
The law on the entry of foreigners to Yugoslavia notes the
right of permanent asylum and provides for government
assistance to persons granted that right. In addition,
Yugoslavia extends temporary asylum to refugees who, with the
assistance of the Belgrade office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees, seek permanent resettlement in
third countries. At present, there are about 1,700 refugees
temporarily in Yugoslavia. There were no known cases of
forcible repatriation of a refugee to his home country in 1985.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: the Right of Citizens
to Change Their Government
The 2-mi 11 ion-member League of Communists of Yugoslavia
maintains a monopoly on political power, but that authority is
dispersed because the party is decentralized to the level of
the six republics and two provinces. Yugoslav politicians and
the press regularly note that the country's eight regional
party organizations hold widely differing views on key policy
issues. Because of such differences, the authority of the
party in the Yugoslav Government is not absolute.
Governmental bodies are responsible in theory and in fact for
administering and drawing up policies, especially economic
policies. At the top of the government structure are the
collective state Presidency (chief of state), the Federal
Executive Council (Cabinet), and the Federal Assembly
(Parliament). The Presidency is responsible for overall
policy direction. The Cabinet is responsible for running the
governmental machinery and proposing specific legislation.
The Federal Assembly is responsible for enacting legislation.
It operates sometimes by majority vote and sometimes by
consensus among delegations representing the country's six
republics and two autonomous provinces. The Federal Assembly
in recent years has been quite active and contentious. It has
several times rejected or drastically altered proposals
endorsed by the Federal Presidency and Cabinet, and it is
often the scene of sharp debates which are generally reported
fully in the press and on television. Federal laws must also
be adopted separately by Republic and Provincial Assemblies
before they can be implemented, and thus these local
assemblies wield considerable power, amounting at times to an
actual veto of federal authority. In certain cases, delegates
to the Federal Assembly must have authorizing instructions
from their respective Republic or Provincial Assembly before
engaging in negotiation or compromise on federal legislative
measures .
Selection to party bodies is accomplished by the party bodies
themselves. Methods range from secret ballot and majority
vote to cooptation. In late 1985 there was considerable
discussion in the party over the desirability of having
multiple candidates elected by majority vote.
Selection to government bodies occurs via a delegate system.
Nominations originate in the various socio-political
organizations which are parts of the mass umbrella
organization, the Socialist Alliance of the Working People.
This includes the trade unions, the League of Socialist Youth,
and the Union of Veterans. On the local level, ordinary
workers can and do play an active role" in the selection
process. Only one candidate is usually nominated for each
office, although as of late 1985 there had been several
elections involving more than one candidate, particularly in
the Republic of Croatia and the city of Zagreb. The concept
of multiple candidates has received much public attention.
Virtually all government offices mandate a rotation of
officials once every year or 2 years, usually with the
possibility of extension for one additional term.
Yugoslavia's many ethnic groups generally have equal access to
political and government positions, especially through their
respective republics and provinces. Various senior executive
government and party positions rotate annually from one
nationality to another according to a predetermined national
"key." There are some allegations of political
discrimination, particularly from ethnic Albanians, that Serbs
are overrepresented in the party and government organs of the
autonomous province of Kosovo. However, in terms of
percentages and visibility, these allegations are not borne
out by the situation as of late 1985. Although the current
Federal Prime Minister is a woman, there are still allegations
that women cannot participate fully in government and
political life. While full and unimpeded oppox-tunities for
women are mandated by law, women are underrepresented at
higher levels, reflecting longstanding social attitudes and
customs .
Section 4 Government Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigations of Alleged Violations
of Human Rights
The Government is sensitive to Western charges of human rights
violations within Yugoslavia and often attempts to dismiss
such charges as efforts to bring pressure on Yugoslavia to
alter its social, economic, or political system. The
Government issues visas to representatives of international
human rights groups, but its officials may refuse requests for
appointments. On at least one occasion in 1985, however, the
Prime Minister received a representative of a foreign human
rights group to discuss the human rights situation within
Yugoslavia. Representatives of Western human rights
organizations and the Western press were permitted to attend
the trial of the "Belgrade Six" through to its conclusion.
In its 1985 Report (concerning the year 1984), Amnesty
International was concerned about the imprisonment of over 200
prisoners of conscience. It received allegations of
ill-treatment during investigation from several political
prisoners and was also concerned about ill-treatment and
conditions in some prisons where political prisoners were
held. It called for the release of two prisoners of
conscience forcibly confined to psychiatric institutions.
Freedom House rated Yugoslavia "partly free."
The population of Yugoslavia in 1985 was approximately 23.1
million, with an annual growth rate of 0.7 percent. According
to World Bank statistics, per capita gross national product in
1983 was $2,570.
In 1985 the largely decentralized Yugoslav economy performed
less well than in 1984. Economic performance got off to a
weak start in the early months of the year as Yugoslavia
experienced one of the worst winters in the past 25 years.
Performance began to improve in the second quarter, but export
growth was less than expected, and agricultural and industrial
output growth both lagged. A drought from July to September
resulted in smaller crops than the record levels of 1984.
Yugoslavia was again compelled to reschedule a portion of its
nearly $20 billion in foreign debts, but interest payments
were maintained without interruption.
In an attempt to cope with its economic problems, Yugoslavia
has maintained a domestic austerity program since 1980, and
the Long-Term Economic Stabilization Program lasting until
1990 was approved by the Federal Parliament in mid-1983.
Development of reform measures has taken longer than
originally anticipated, and inflation has continued to mount,
reaching an all-time record in excess of 75 percent in 1985.
Since 1980, real incomes have fallen more than 30 percent, but
most Yugoslavs have been able to maintain their standard of
living at higher levels than the fall in real incomes
suggests. Official statistics indicate that overall personal
consumption fell only 3 percent between 1979 and 1984, but
some Yugoslav experts have indicated that the standard of
living in 1985 had fallen back to the level of 1967.
There is an extensive system of social and medical insurance
for those who are old, disabled, and unemployed. The
Government provides a network of day-care nurseries for
working mothers. Life expectancy at birth in 1985 was 71.7
years, and the infant mortality rate was 30.0 per 1,000 live
births. Education is extensive, government-run, and free
through high school. The adult literacy rate was 90.5 percent
in 1981, with 95.9 percent of males and 85.3 percent of
females literate. In January 1985, the Federal Committee for
Labor, Health, and Social Affairs announced that 2.5 million
citizens could be considered socially endangered due to low
incomes. Of these, 1.2 million were pensioners drawing
monthly pensions of roughly $80 or less.
Almost 85 percent of all land is privately owned. Farmers may
own up to 10 hectares of arable land plus additional hectares
of mountainous terrain as pasturage. Small-scale private
enterprise is permitted, and republican and provincial laws
limit the number of employees in private enterprises to 5 to
10 workers, plus family members.
Factories in theory are owned by society as a whole and
administered by their workers, organized in enterprise-level
workers' councils. In practice, the influence of workers'
councils varies, but they are actively involved in determining
worker incomes, fringe benefits, and working conditions.
Through their trade union organizations, workers participate
in decisions affecting housing, transportation, continuing
education, and other living and working conditions.
The standard workweek is 42 hours. Common practice is to work
five 8-hour days per week, and one Saturday per month. Most
workers have the right to 1 month's paid vacation per year, as
well as extensive sick leave. The minimum age for the
employment of children is 16 years. In practice, young people
from developed, urban areas usually wait a long time for their
first job because the unemployment rate among young people is
particularly high. Working conditions and safety are
regulated by republican and provincial law.
The Constitution guarantees the equality of citizens
regardless of sex, and the Government has taken steps to
improve the status of women. Maternity leave for employed
women is very liberal and is routinely granted for periods
between 9 and 12 months. Depending on the republic, working
mothers are given day-care allowances based on their salaries
and the number of children to be cared for. Also, for up to 2
years after the birth of a child, a working mother may take
sick leave when her child is ill.
The role of women in Yugoslavia's work force has slowly
improved as a result of increased education and urbanization
in the society as a whole. According to statistics for 1984,
37.3 percent of the Yugoslav work force was composed of women,
as opposed to 34.5 percent in 1974. However, women still hold
relatively low positions in their respective fields of
employment .
The Constitution charges government authorities at all levels
with protection of the cultural rights of all the peoples of
Yugoslavia. The use of the major local language is required
in official communications between Belgrade and the various
republics, and local languages are used in the schools,
courts, and local media. Each citizen has the right, in
theory and practice, to address courts and government agencies
in his own language. Despite government efforts, some social
discrimination continues, however, particularly against ethnic
Albanians and Gypsies.