Public opinion poll on „The awareness of Serbian citizens about the wars and war crimes of the ‘90s, and war crimes trials“

Public opinion poll on „The awareness of Serbian citizens about the wars and war crimes of the ‘90s, and war crimes trials“

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A survey conducted by the Research and Publishing Center Demostat for the needs of the daily newspaper Danas, for the first time since 2011, presents the views of citizens about war crimes trials before domestic courts and the Hague Tribunal, as well as their views about the opening of archives, regional cooperation of judicial bodies, political rehabilitation of convicted war criminals, compensations to victims and raising of war memorials, and reform of the educational programme, and addresses in conclusion the perception of guilt and responsibility for the crimes committed and the general awareness of citizens about the wars and crimes committed in the ‘90s.


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Initial Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for War Crimes Prosecution

Initial Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for War Crimes Prosecution

Izvesta_o_sprovodjenju_NSZPRZ-srThe Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) has been monitoring and providing support to war crimes trials since the first war crimes proceedings conducted in Serbia in 2002. The HLC is the only organization that has been continuously monitoring and analyzing war crimes trials in Serbia and informing the public at home and abroad about them. It has been representing victims in war crimes cases through an attorney, filing criminal complaints with the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutors (OWCP) against suspected perpetrators, and sharing its documentation on war crimes.

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The legal and institutional framework in Serbia regarding the rights and needs of civilian victims of war

The legal and institutional framework in Serbia regarding the rights and needs of civilian victims of war

AThe legal and institutional freds of civilian victims of war 1rmed conflicts in the territories of the former Yugoslavia lasted from 1991 to 2001. The wars in Croatia (1991-1995), Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1995) and Kosovo (1998-1999) resulted in the mass murders of civilians, ethnic cleansing and persecution of hundreds of thousands of people, but also a large number of grave crimes unseen in Europe since World War II. Serbia had an active and involved role in these conflicts. In the context of the armed conflicts, the authorities in Serbia during this entire period were responsible for serious violations of the fundamental rights of its own citizens from the ranks of national minorities, as well as of some members of the majority Serbian population. In Serbia today there are a significant number of citizens who came to Serbia as refugees owing to the wars in other countries of the former Yugoslavia, and most of them have remained in Serbia permanently. Among them are a fair number who survived crimes, whose physical and psychological consequences they suffer to this day, as well as many of those who lost one or more family members in the war.


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Judging with impunity: The role of prosecutors and judges in show trials of Kosovo Albanians in the period 1998-2000

Judging with impunity: The role of prosecutors and judges in show trials of Kosovo Albanians in the period 1998-2000

montirani_procesi_protiv_K_A-enAround the end of 1996 and the beginning of 1997, the offices of district public prosecutors began  indicting Kosovo Albanians en masse, pursuant to Article 125 of the CCY (with reference to terrorism) and Article 136, paragraphs 1 and 2 of the CCY (with reference to association for the purpose of conducting hostile activities). The trials for the above-cited charges were conducted by district courts in Kosovo during 1998 and 1999, more specifically until 9 June 1999 when the Kumanovo Agreement was signed and the army and police began their withdrawal from the territory of Kosovo.

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Dossier: “Deportation of Srebrenica Refugees”

Dossier: “Deportation of Srebrenica Refugees”

Dosije_Deportacije-logo-enAfter the fall of Srebrenica on 11 July, 1995, an estimated 7,905 persons disappeared, mostly men considered by the Army of Republika Srpska as “able-bodied”.  DNA analysis of the mortal remains of those found in mass graves, to date, has enabled positive identification of 5,977 persons killed in Srebrenica.

Most of these men were killed between 13 and 16 July 1995, in mass executions at several locations. A day before the fall of the enclave, between ten and sixteen thousand men fled into the forests around Srebrenica, intending to reach the “liberated territory” under the control of the Army of BiH. The search for, capture and killing of these men continued for weeks after the fall of Srebrenica.

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Report on War Crimes Trials in Serbia during 2016

Report on War Crimes Trials in Serbia during 2016

Izvestaj_o_sudjenjima_za_2016_engThe Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) has monitored all war crimes trials conducted in the territory of Serbia in 2016 – that is to say, a total of 26 trials conducted by the War Crimes Departments of the Higher Court or the Court of Appeal in Belgrade, or the courts of general jurisdiction.

The Report on War Crimes Trials in Serbia during 2016 features a brief overview of all 26 cases observed and the HLC’s key findings on each case, which the public needs to be informed about. Given that a significant portion of the war crimes proceedings presented in the Report have been ongoing for a number of years, the previous annual HLC Reports on war crimes trials should also be consulted for a full appreciation of the course of the proceedings and the corresponding findings. The Report also covers trials for crimes that are not classified as war crimes by the relevant prosecutor’s offices of general jurisdiction; despite the fact that the circumstances of such cases indicate they do constitute war crimes.

The Report focuses particularly on the work of prosecutor’s offices and courts, notably in the analysis of indictments and judgments. An analysis of the work of other institutions involved in war crimes prosecution (the War Crimes Investigation Service of the Serbian Ministry of the Interior, the Protection Unit, etc.) could not be made within the context of each case as a result of the lack of publicly available information on their work.

The War Crimes Department of the Higher Court in Belgrade handed down first-instance judgments in three cases over the reporting period, and a judgement accepting a plea agreement concluded between the OWCP and a the defendant. The War Crimes Department of the Court of Appeal in Belgrade has issued six rulings on appeals against judgments passed by the Higher Court in Belgrade. The courts of general jurisdiction handed down four judgments. Eight OWCP’s indictments were confirmed in the reporting period against 15 individuals accused of a war crime against a civilian population.

The analyses of the cases in the Report are preceded by an overview of the general findings on war crimes trials in 2016, and a summary of the significant social and political events that had a bearing on the war crimes trials.

The Report on War Crimes Trials in Serbia during 2016 is available here.

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Dossier: “The cover-up of evidence of crimes during the war in Kosovo: THE CONCEALMENT OF BODIES OPERATION”

Dossier: “The cover-up of evidence of crimes during the war in Kosovo: THE CONCEALMENT OF BODIES OPERATION”

UklanjanjeDokaza-enSince 2001, mass graves containing the bodies of 941 Kosovo Albanians, mainly civilians killed outside combat situations in Kosovo during 1999, have been found on four locations in Serbia. 744 bodies of Kosovo Albanians have been discovered in Batajnica, on the outskirts of Belgrade, at least 61 in Petrovo Selo, and 84 at Lake Perućac. At least 52 bodies have been subsequently found in the mass grave at Rudnica.

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Dossier „Šljivovica and Mitrovo Polje“

Dossier „Šljivovica and Mitrovo Polje“

Dosije-SljivovicaIMitrovoPolje-enAfter capturing Žepa in late July 1995 approximately 800 Bosniaks from Žepa crossed the River Drina and entered the territory of the Republic of Serbia, frightened for their lives after rumours had spread of the crimes committed by the Army of Republika Srpska in Srebrenica. Most of them were members of the Army of BiH, but there were also civilians, including dozens of underage boys. Almost immediately after crossing, the men were taken captive by border guards of the Yugoslav Army and members of Special Police Units.

After registration and interrogation, accompanied by ill-treatment, all detainees were taken to the Šljivovica camp in Braneško Polje, near Čajetina. As there was no room in Šljivovica for such a large number of people, a group of detainees was transferred to another camp, located in Mitrovo Polje (Aleksandrovac municipality). In both camps, detainees were subjected to torture, sexual violence, inhumane treatment, humiliation and starvation, and were robbed of their possessions. Three detainees died as a result of the torture.

The Mitrovo Polje camp was closed in February 1996. The camp in Šljivovica was closed in April 1996, when the last remaining detainees were freed.

To date, no one has been called to account for the torture, abuse and deaths of Žepa male detainees in the camps in Serbia. Although the names are known of the inspectors and guards who were in the camps, no proceedings have ever been brought before any domestic court to establish the criminal responsibility of these individuals for acting contrary to domestic and international law. Neither the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia nor the International Court of Justice has addressed the torture of the Bosniaks in Serbian camps, although both courts were presented with evidence concerning these crimes.

The dossier „Šljivovica and Mitrovo Polje“ is available here.

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Public’s Right to Know of War Crimes Trials in Serbia

Public’s Right to Know of War Crimes Trials in Serbia

Logo FHPThe report by the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) analyzes how are the existing mechanisms for public access to trials for war crimes applied and recommends necessary changes in the legislative framework and practice.  

The public’s right to know about the war crimes trials, as a minimum, includes the right to access the courtroom where trials are held and documentation of war crimes cases (indictments, judgements, transcripts and audio/video records of main hearings); the right to record a trial for the purpose of public presentation and the right to keep court records from war crimes cases. Out of the stated rights, only the right to access the courtroom and monitor the trial is strictly adhered to in Serbia and, therefore, it is not specifically analyzed in the Report. The public’s right to access relevant documents from war crimes trials is limited in practice by the refusal of courts to deliver judgments from proceedings that are not final and by excessive anonymisation of data.  

The report is based on several years of practice of the HLC, that monitors national war crimes trials from the start, obtains relevant court documents and reports about them to the public.

The report “Public’s Right to Know of War Crimes Trials in Serbia” is available here.

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TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE IN SERBIA in the period from 2013 to 2015

TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE IN SERBIA in the period from 2013 to 2015

Izvestaj_o_TP_enThe aim of the report „Transitional Justice in Serbia in the period from 2013 to 2015“ is to inform the domestic and international publics on the progress of the process of establishing transitional justice in Serbia.

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