War crimes trials in light of constitutional amendments

War crimes trials in light of constitutional amendments

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On January 22, 2018, the Ministry of Justice published a working text that envisages amendments to the Constitution in the provisions governing the work of the judiciary. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) would like to point out that the proposed amendments to the Serbian Constitution reduce the currently attained level of independence of judges, as well as the autonomy of prosecutors, only to relocate the existing political influence on the judiciary from the National Assembly to the High Judicial Council, through the “distinguished lawyers” who  constitute this body and independently have the majority in making decisions, as well as the authority to introduce institutes and institutions through which the executive power can directly exercise political influence on the election of judges and prosecutors. Bearing in mind the previous work of the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor (OWCP) and of the Special Council of the Higher Court in Belgrade regarding war crimes, characterized by the small number of indictments, the non-processing of medium and high-ranking members of the army and police, the absence of political support for trials and the delays in proceedings, the HLC considers that the proposed amendments to the Constitution will only contribute to the continuation of such a manner of working, owing to political pressure, which is bound to come from the change in the composition of the High Judicial Council and of non-judicial bodies that would be receiving quasi-judicial powers.


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Criminal complaint against Svetozar Andrić

Criminal complaint against Svetozar Andrić

Logo FHPOn March 2 2018, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) submitted a criminal complaint against Svetozar Andrić, former commander of the Birač Brigade of the Republika Srpska Army (VRS), and later Chief of Staff of the VRS Drina Corps, to the War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Serbia. The criminal complaint was filed for several crimes committed during the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).

On May 28, 1992, Svetozar Andrić ordered the “eviction” of the Bosniak population from Zvornik, as the then commander of the VRS Birač Brigade, in whose area of responsibility were the municipalities of Vlasenica and Zvornik, among others. This resulted in the departure of more than 10,000 Bosniaks to Mali Zvornik, Kalesija, and the villages of Snagovo and Kula Grad.

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Crime in Štrpci – 25 years without justice for victims

Crime in Štrpci – 25 years without justice for victims

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On Tuesday, February 27 2018, it will be 25 years since the crime in Štrpci, when members of the Republika Srpska Army (VRS), at the railway station in Štrpci (BiH), abducted 20 passengers from a train operating on the Belgrade-Bar route, and then killed them. They were all non-Serb civilians. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), Women in Black, the Sandžak Committee for the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms, and the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, would like to remind the public that the families of the victims have been waiting for 25 years for judicial justice in Serbia and for recognition of the status of families of civilian victims of war.

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25 years since the Kukurovići crime

25 years since the Kukurovići crime

Victims punished for unwillingness of State to prosecute those responsible for this crime

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On February 18 2018, 25 years have passed since the Yugoslav Army (VJ)’s attack on the Sandžak village of Kukurovići. In this attack, almost the entire village was demolished, and three citizens of Bosniak nationality were killed. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) and the Sandžak Committee for the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms (Sandžak Committee) would like to draw attention to the fact that even 25 years after this crime against civilians – citizens of Serbia, nobody has been found responsible, and the state of Serbia has not provided the victims with adequate recognition and reparations.

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On behalf of the Coalition for RECOM: The Establishment of RECOM is an Indicator of the Political Maturity of the Leaders of Post-Yugoslav Countries

On behalf of the Coalition for RECOM: The Establishment of RECOM is an Indicator of the Political Maturity of the Leaders of Post-Yugoslav Countries

rekom_logoOn January 27, 2018, in Sarajevo, the Coalition for RECOM held the VIII Assembly Session, and afterwards, on January 28 and 29, 2018, the Eleventh Forum for Transitional Justice in post-Yugoslav Countries.

The Assembly Delegates welcomed the willingness of most leaders of the post-Yugoslav countries to sign the Agreement on the Establishment of RECOM within the framework of the Berlin Process, at the upcoming London Summit in July 2018, thus activating Article 49 of the Draft Statute of RECOM on undertaking preparations for the establishment of the Commission (RECOM).

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Criminal complaint for rape of Roma women in 1993

Criminal complaint for rape of Roma women in 1993

Fond_Logo_200_200On January 29, 2018, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed a criminal complaint with the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor (OWCP) against several unidentified members of the Secretariat of the Interior (SUP) of Beli Manastir, for the rape of six Roma women (including one pregnant woman and three minors) in the basement of the SUP Beli Manastir, in the summer of 1993.

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Ovčara Case: 14 years waiting for justice

Ovčara Case: 14 years waiting for justice

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After 14 years, the first war crimes case before specialized court councils in Serbia came to a close with the new final judgment for the crime at Ovčara near Vukovar. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) points out that the trial in this case is one of the best indicators of the ineptitude of Serbian institutions in dealing with the obligation to approach the crimes from the past with responsibility and dedication.

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An insult to the victims and legitimization of crimes at the highest state level

An insult to the victims and legitimization of crimes at the highest state level

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Speaking on N1 TV station in January 2018, Milovan Drecun, the President of the Serbian Parliamentary Committee for Kosovo and Metohija, referred to the Bytyqi brothers, killed by the Serbian police in July 1999, as „terrorists“. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) considers such a description of these victims, whose family has been waiting for justice for more than 18 years, unacceptable, especially bearing in mind that it comes from a person highly placeed within the power structures of the Republic of Serbia.


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The third acquittal for war crimes in 2017

The third acquittal for war crimes in 2017

Logo FHPOn December 25, 2017, the War Crimes Chamber of the Belgrade High Court delivered a judgment acquitting Marko Pauković and Dragan Bajić of charges for war crimes against a civilian population, owing to a lack of evidence. As members of the Military Police of the Sixth Brigade of the Republika Srpska Army, Bajić and Pauković were accused of murdering Hasan Rahić (aged 60), Minka Jusić (aged 70) Munira Hotić (aged 54), Đemila Behar (aged 54) and the then minor Safeta Behar (aged 12), in the town of Kamičak (Ključ municipality, Bosnia and Herzegovina), on October 10, 1992. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) notes that this is only the third verdict for war crimes cases that has been brought in Serbia in 2017; like the previous two, it is acquitting. In March, the Court of Appeal acquitted Goran Šinik of the murder of civilians in Gradiška (BiH) in 1992; and in April, Neđeljko Sovilj and Rajko Vekić were acquitted of the murder of civilians in the municipality of Bosanski Petrovac (BiH) in December 1992.

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