Numerous observers noted the existence of a climate of hostility toward national and ethnic minorities, which constituted 25 to 30 percent of the country's
population and included ethnic Hungarians, Bosniaks, Roma, Slovaks, Romanians, Vlachs, Bulgarians, Croats, Albanians, Ashkali, Egyptians, and others.
Roma, who constituted 1.4 percent of the population in the 2002 census but whose actual number was believed to be approximately 5.4 percent, continued to be the most vulnerable minority community and were the targets of police violence, societal discrimination, and verbal and physical harassment.
On June 27, six individuals were convicted for inciting racial and national hatred and intolerance in Jabuka village in June 2010. All six were given sentences below the legally prescribed minimum, one to eight years of imprisonment. Four were sentenced to five months of probation and two, who were convicted as minors, were sentenced to "correctional measures," including being required to finish high school. On October 7, both the prosecution and the defense appealed the case with the Court of Appeals of Novi Sad. The appeal continued at year's end.
Many Roma continued to live illegally in squatter settlements lacking basic services such as schools, medical care, water, and sewage facilities. According to UNICEF, Romani children were one-third as likely to live to their first birthday as other children and often faced difficulties in accessing health care. While the educational system provided nine years of free, mandatory schooling, including a year before elementary school, ethnic prejudice, cultural norms, and economic hardship discouraged some Romani children, especially girls, from attending school.
Ethnic Albanian leaders in the southern municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac, and Medvedja continued to complain that ethnic Albanians were underrepresented in state institutions at the local level. During the year the government began approving Albanian-language textbooks for elementary
school use and, on October 28, inaugurated an Albanian-language faculty of business in Bujanovac. Ethnic Albanians continued to lack textbooks in their mother tongue for secondary education.
The government took some steps to counter violence and discrimination against minorities. It operated a hotline for minorities and others concerned about human rights problems. Civic education classes, offered by the government as an alternative to religion courses in secondary schools, included information on minority cultures and multiethnic tolerance. Bodies known as national minority councils represented 22 minority communities and had broad competency over education, mass media, culture, and the
use of minority languages. Contrary to the December 2010 announcement by the minister for human and minority rights, elections for a Bosniak national minority council were not held during the year, and it remained the only un-constituted national minority council.