The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed an initiative for the assessment of the constitutionality of the Law on the Rights of Civilian Invalids of War with the Constitutional Court of Serbia, due to the non-compliance of its provisions with the Constitution of Serbia and international human rights conventions. The HLC expects the Constitutional Court to act upon this initiative and declare the disputed legal provisions (Articles 2 and 3 of the Law) unconstitutional and annul them, which would then open a path for the passing of a new law which would guarantee comprehensive rights to civilian victims of armed conflicts, in line with the Constitution and the international obligations undertaken by the state of Serbia.
The Chamber of the Department for War Crimes of the Higher Court in Belgrade rendered a ruling on May 18th, 2016, dismissing the request for the arrest and extradition of three officials from the Serbian Radical Party, namely Petar Jojić, Vjerica Radeta and Jovo Ostojić, to the International Criminal Tribunal For the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), to stand trial in the case of Contempt of Court, with the explanation that the legal requirements for granting this request have not been met.
One of the allegations in the lawsuit claiming violation of the right to reputation and honour filed by the Chief of the General Staff of the Serbian Army (VS), Ljubiša Diković, against the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) and its founder Nataša Kandić, before the First Basic Court in Belgrade, relates to the position he held in the Yugoslav Army during 1994 and 1995. In the challenged part of the “Ljubiša Diković Dossier” produced by the HLC, it is alleged that in the period in question, General Diković was the Commander of the 16th Border Battalion of the Yugoslav Army (VJ), members of which arrested Bosniak refugees from Bosnia in July 1995 and handed them over to the Bosnian Serb Army, after which some of them were killed. Diković claimed [available in Serbian] before the court that he was discharged from the position of Commander of the 16th Border Battalion on July 28th, 1994, by order of the Chief of Personal Administration.
The First Basic Court in Belgrade has rendered a judgement upholding in part the lawsuit filed by the Serbian Army Chief of General Staff for the compensation of damages caused by the psychological pain suffered due to the violation of his honour and reputation inflicted by the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), who published allegedly false factual accusations in the ‘Ljubiša Diković Dossier’, and Nataša Kandić, who exposed in public allegedly false factual accusations and value judgements, which were of an offensive nature and violated human dignity. The Court granted the amount of 550,000 RSD in damages, assessing that the amount requested (1,000,000 RSD) was set too high.
The First Basic Court in Belgrade delivered the judgment obliging the Republic of Serbia to pay compensation in the total amount of 25.9 million dinars to 24 closest relatives of fourteen women and children who were killed in front of their own houses in Podujevo in March 1999 by members of the Ministry of Interior unit “Scorpions”. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), which represents the families of victims, considers the court made the right decision after a nine-year proceeding adding that in the second instance proceeding, due to the nature of the case, the court must compare the amount of compensation to standards of the European Court of Human Rights in similar cases.
On March 31st, 2016, the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) delivered its first instance judgment acquitting the President of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), Vojislav Šešelj, of criminal responsibility on all counts of the indictment, with the dissenting opinion of one member of the Trial Chamber expressing criticism of the judgement in harsh tones. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) holds that the acquittal is based on findings which are in contradiction to the practice of the ICTY, as well as on an unsustainable reinterpretation of events which occurred during the wars, which is offensive to the victims.
The former spokeswoman of the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Florence Hartman, was arrested on Thursday, 24 March, outside the ICTY building and taken to serve a seven-day jail term. Hartmann was arrested by ICTY security officers on orders of the chamber that rendered a final judgment against her. Civil society representatives from the region of the former Yugoslavia hereby voice their support for Florence Hartmann and her uncompromising struggle for truth.
Jelena Milić, Director of the Centre for Euro-Atlantic Studies, has been exposed to an organized lynching on social networks during the past two months, which included serious insults and death threats addressed to her and her family, because of her public engagement. The threats and assaults culminated with the marking of the anniversary of the NATO bombing on March 24th, 2016, when she called on the institutions of Serbia to stop manipulating the casualties of the bombing.
On Saturday, February 27th, 2016, it will be 23 years since the commission of the crime in Štrpci, when members of the Republic of Srpska Army took 20 passengers, who were civilians and non-Serbs, from the train travelling from Belgrade to Bar at the Štrpci Railway Station, and subsequently killed them. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), Women in Black and the Sandžak Committee for the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms take this opportunity to remind the public that the victims’ families are still waiting for judicial justice in Serbia and the recognition of the status of family members of civilian victims of war.