25 Years Since Crime at Ovčara Victims’ trust in domestic judiciary is betrayed

25 Years Since Crime at Ovčara Victims’ trust in domestic judiciary is betrayed

Ovcara 25 godinaNovember 20th 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of the crime committed at „Ovčara“ farm near Vukovar, when members of the local territorial defense unit (Teritorijalna odbrana – TO) and Serb volunteers under the command of the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) killed 265 Croatian civilians and prisoners of war. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) on this occasion would like to remind the public that the trial of this case before the domestic courts has not yet been finally completed, even after more than 12 years.


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Legal protection for the denial of genocide in Srebrenica

Legal protection for the denial of genocide in Srebrenica

Srebrenica-masovna_grobnicaOn 15 November 2016, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia opened the debate on the Bill on Amendments to the Criminal Code, which prohibits public approval and denial of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, but only if those offenses have been established by the final judgment of a court in Serbia or the International Criminal Court. This would provide legal protection to revisionists of facts which have been established before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) calls upon the Members of the National Assembly to amend the proposed bill so that it includes a ban on the denial of facts established by the ICTY and the ICJ, in accordance with the domestic and international legal obligations of the Republic of Serbia.

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Crime in Tuzla’s Kapija: Revision of the judicially established facts and putting regional cooperation to the test

Crime in Tuzla’s Kapija: Revision of the judicially established facts and putting regional cooperation to the test

Tuzlanska KapijaThe War Crimes Department of the Higher Court in Belgrade has been conducting proceedings for the recognition and execution of the final judgment passed by the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), by which Novak Đukić was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment for a war crime against a civilian population, which he committed by ordering an artillery strike on the Tuzla downtown area known as Kapija on 25 May 1995. At the same time, Đukić’s defence team has been waging a campaign in Serbia to publicly prove Đukić’s supposed innocence. In an effort to deny the facts established in the final judgment against Đukić, his defence team is using the results of an experiment conducted at the training grounds of the Army of Serbia in Nikinci, near Ruma. On the basis of this out-of-court experiment conducted by experts hired by Đukić himself, it was concluded that Đukić and the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) are not to be held responsible for the massacre of civilians in Tuzla.

The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) considers that the War Crimes Department of the Higher Court in Belgrade must not take into consideration the results of the abovementioned experiment, and urges it to comply promptly with the Court of BiH’s request, counter the obstructions of Đukić’s defence team and thus demonstrate, through its actions, its true commitment to regional cooperation in prosecuting war crimes. Additionally, the HLC urges the domestic authorities, especially the Army of Serbia, to stop supporting efforts aimed at denying judicially established facts and at negationist revisions of the recent wartime past.

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Criminal Complaint for Crime in Lovas Committed In 1991

Criminal Complaint for Crime in Lovas Committed In 1991

Krivicna prijava LovasThe Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed a criminal complaint on November 2, 2016, with the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor of the Republic of Serbia, for a war crime committed in October 1991 against Croat civilians in the village of Lovas in Croatia (CRO).

The complaint was filed against the former Commander of the Second Proletarian Elite Motorized Brigade of the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA 2nd PEMBR), Dušan Lončar.

On October 9th, 1991, Dušan Lončar ordered an attack on the village of Lovas (East Slavonia) and the cleansing from the terrain of members of the Croatian National Guard and of the Republic of Croatia Ministry of the Interior, as well as of population ”showing hostility”. Early in the morning the following day, Lončar ordered the Howitzer Division of the JNA 2nd PEMBR to open fire and launch an artillery attack on Lovas, in which two Croat civilians were killed. Soon after this, members of the Dušan Silni (‘Dušan the Mighty’) volunteer unit entered Lovas, as part of the execution of the order issued by Lončar, and started shooting at random, and throwing hand grenades into backyards and houses. They killed several civilians while they were in their homes, and took others outside their houses and killed them in the street or other places, which resulted in the destruction and damaging of civilian property and the death of 21 civilians.

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European Court of Human Rights Rejects the Application of Former Prisoners of Šljivovica and Mitrovo Polje Detention Camps: Amnesty for the Prosecution, Disillusionment for Victims

European Court of Human Rights Rejects the Application of Former Prisoners of Šljivovica and Mitrovo Polje Detention Camps: Amnesty for the Prosecution, Disillusionment for Victims

Šljivovica

On 27 October 2016, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rejected the application lodged on behalf of 67 Bosniaks, who during 1995 and 1996 were detained in the Šljivovica and Mitrovo Polje camps in Serbia, and consequently refused to determine whether the investigation of Serbian government bodies into their ill-treatment was adequate. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), who represented the former detainees in this case, considers that this decision of the ECtHR leaves thousands of victims of yet unprosecuted crimes without protection and offers the Serbian judiciary an excuse for their current and future inactivity when it comes to war crimes prosecution.

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Sjeverin: 24 years of search for truth, justice and recognition

Sjeverin: 24 years of search for truth, justice and recognition

fhp_sandzakOn Saturday, 22 October, it will be twenty-four years since 16 Serbian citizens of Bosniak ethnicity from Sjeverin, near Priboj, were kidnapped and subsequently killed by members of Bosnian Serb forces during the armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). On this occasion, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) and the Sandžak Committee for Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms reiterate that after so many years of search the mortal remains of the victims have not yet been found, while the Serbian institutions persistently refuse to provide the victims with reparation, support and recognition.

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The Court of Appeal rules on General Diković’s lawsuit against the HLC and Nataša Kandić

The Court of Appeal rules on General Diković’s lawsuit against the HLC and Nataša Kandić

post_apelacioniThe Court of Appeal in Belgrade has upheld the first-instance ruling by the First Basic Court in Belgrade which awarded the Chief of the Serbian Army General Staff 550,000 dinars in damages for the mental anguish he suffered as a result of the damage to his honour and reputation caused, as found by the court, by the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) which published untrue factual allegations in its “Ljubiša Diković” File, and by HLC founder Nataša Kandić, who publicly expressed untrue factual allegations and value judgements about him which were offensive and harmful to his dignity. In the view of the HLC, the Court of Appeal’s ruling departs drastically from the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), further limits the space for debate on issues of public concern, and protects government officials from any criticism and public scrutiny of their possible criminal responsibility for past war crimes. The HLC will lodge an appeal with the Constitutional Court against the ruling.

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Acquittal in Gradiška Case: New Instance of Omissions in Work of Prosecutor’s Office and Court

Acquittal in Gradiška Case:  New Instance of Omissions in Work of Prosecutor’s Office and Court

Logo FHPThe Higher Court in Belgrade rendered a judgment in the Gradiška Case on October 13th, 2016, acquitting the accused Goran Šinik of charges that he had committed an act of war crime against a civilian population. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) emphasizes that this judgement is the outcome of an unfounded indictment filed by the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor (OWCP), as well as of inadequate control exercised by the Trial Chamber of the Higher Court in Belgrade in the phase of judgment confirmation; and that this case represents a paradigmatic example of how an image of productivity of the war crimes judiciary is being fabricated, by raising indictments which are doomed to failure.


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Radio Television of Vojvodina silences the victims of war

Radio Television of Vojvodina silences the victims of war

RTV-ucutkala_zrtve_rataOn July 24 2016, the broadcasting of the series “People and Memories Talk”, a documentary programme which recorded the testimonies of victims of all nationalities from the wars in the former Yugoslavia, was suddenly terminated, following a decision made by the new management of Radio Television of Vojvodina (RTV). The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) believes that such a decision is contrary to the Law on Public Information and Media (available in Serbian) and the proclaimed mission of the RTV (available in Serbian), and that it is also an act of censorship and a missed opportunity for a public media service to make a contribution to reconciliation and the normalization of relations with neighbours in the region.

The series was co-produced by the human rights organizations Integra (Kosovo), Documenta (Croatia), HLC (Serbia), Association of of Concentration-camp Detainees “Prijedor ’92” (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and the Center for Research and Policy Making (Macedonia). In the series, the victims of all nationalities speak about their sufferings and the fates of their family members who were killed in the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Kosovo.

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Consequences of Political Tensions on Prosecution of War Crimes: For the first time, Serbia does not participate in the regional conference of war crimes prosecutors

Consequences of Political Tensions on Prosecution of War Crimes: For the first time, Serbia does not participate in the regional conference of war crimes prosecutors

Logo FHPAfter 12 years of contacts between prosecution offices in the region within the framework of cooperation in the prosecution of war crimes, the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor (OWCP) of the Republic of Serbia for the first time did not participate in the regional conference of war crimes prosecutors, the tenth in the series, which began on the 5th September 2016 in Brijuni, Croatia. This is a dramatic change in long-standing practices, and it is happening at a moment of severely undermined bilateral relations (available in Bosnian) between Serbia and Croatia, and a political crisis (available in Serbian) in the region. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) feels that this is an alarming indicator of political influence being exerted on the judiciary, and points out that the decision on non-participation by the OWCP at the conference is in direct conflict with the obligations which the Republic of Serbia committed itself to with the Action Plan for Chapter 23 and the National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes.

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