Report on War Crimes Trials in Serbia during 2021

Report on War Crimes Trials in Serbia during 2021

Izvestaj-enThe Report includes an analysis of 26 cases monitored by the HLC before the war crimes departments of the Higher Court and the Court of Appeals in Belgrade. Also, the Report contains an overview of the general findings on war crimes trials during 2021, as well as important socio-political events that are vital for war crimes trials in Serbia.

The report is available here

Share

Memory Politics of the 1990s Wars in Serbia: Historical Revisionism and Challenges of Memory Activism

Memory Politics of the 1990s Wars in Serbia: Historical Revisionism and Challenges of Memory Activism

politike-secanja-enSince 2012, when the Serbian Progressive Party came to power, the wars of the 1990s became the focal point of the official memory politics and crucial for the political legitimacy of the SNS government. The populist discourse of the return of the national pride is central to state-sponsored memory work, arguing that the previous governments and international community coerced the Serbian nation to feel ashamed about its heroes and victims of the 1990s wars. The current regime uses the fact that the previous governments did not focus on the 1990s in their memory politics as a demarcation line and source of legitimacy. Because of the SNS and their political allies, the Serbian people are finally allowed and able, as the dominant narrative claims, to remember their heroes and victims with pride. The government builds its political legitimacy on its commitment to the industry of memory, which involves large-scale commemorations, usage of media technologies, cultural production and new ways of disseminating the dominant narratives.

This paper analyses the memory politics of the 1990s wars and outlines the problem of historical revisionism in contemporary Serbia from the overthrow of Slobodan Milošević until today. The first section of the paper offers an overview of the memory of the 1990s wars during the first decade after the fall of Milošević. The expectations from the democratic changes quickly turned into disappointment as the new state authorities showed the lack of willingness to confront the questions of guilt and responsibility of Serbia and its forces during the 1990s wars. Various patterns of denial and relativisations are analysed. The central part of the paper focuses on the period since 2012 and populist state-sponsored memory politics. To facilitate a better understanding of the war narratives, commemorative practices and the emergence of the 1990s wars in official memory politics, the paper explains the main characteristics of populist memory politics. The paper proceeds to analyse the interpretation of the 1990s as liberation wars, the national program of commemorations and the industry of memory, focusing mainly on Operation Storm, the Kosovo war and NATO bombing of Yugoslavia as the focal points of official memory politics. The final section concludes with a brief outlook on memory activism and its challenges in facing the industry of memory from above.

The paper “Memory Politics of the 1990s Wars in Serbia: Historical Revisionism and Challenges of Memory Activism” is available here.

Share

Policy paper: Awarding restitution claims for victims of sexual violence in war crimes proceedings before Serbian courts

Policy paper: Awarding restitution claims for victims of sexual violence in war crimes proceedings before Serbian courts

predlog-prakticne-politike-enAn associated action for restitution constitutes a claim for the compensation of damages, recovery of property or the annulment of a legal transaction arising from the commission of a criminal offence.

In criminal proceedings, the injured party may file an associated action for damages starting from the investigation stage until the end of the main hearing and the claim shall be decided by the court unless it would delay the proceedings.

Although awarding this claim has been laid down as a rule in the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia, the courts in the Republic of Serbia have been interpreting this legal provision as an exception. Namely, ever since 2003, from which time specialized court divisions handling solely war crime trials have been in existence, not a single war crime victim has been awarded damages in associated action during the criminal proceedings, but they have been referred to exercise their right to compensation in civil action.


Share

Dossier: VRS 43rd Motorised Brigade in Prijedor

Dossier: VRS 43rd Motorised Brigade in Prijedor

43mb-enBetween May and August 1992, units of the 1st Krajina Corps of the Army of the Republika Srpska (VRS), together with the police of the Republika Srpska, Territorial Defence Force (TO) units and various volunteer groups, carried out attacks on a large number villages in the municipality of Prijedor inhabited predominantly by Bosniaks and Croats.

In the documents of the VRS and the Ministry of the Interior (MUP) of the Republika Srpska, combat operations in the Prijedor municipality were referred to as “cleansing operations” and actions aimed to crush extremist groups. However, as established in several judgments of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), these operations involved the systematic killings, abuses, arrests and detention of non-Serbs, as well as the destruction and looting of their property.

More than 3,000 civilians died in the territory of Prijedor municipality in 1992, and around 38,000 Bosniaks and Croats left the municipality before the second half of October of 1992.


Share

Report on War Crimes Trials in Serbia during 2020

Report on War Crimes Trials in Serbia during 2020

GI-slika-engThe HLC has monitored all war crimes trials conducted in the territory of Serbia in 2020, namely a total of 21 cases conducted before the War Crimes Departments of the Higher Court and/or the Court of Appeal in Belgrade.

The Report provides a brief overview of the proceedings and of the HLC’s basic findings in respect of cases which are of public relevance. A large number of the war crimes cases covered by this Report have been going on for a number of years now, so that previous HLC annual trial reports are also relevant for a full grasp of the course of the proceedings and the pertinent HLC findings.


Share

DOSSIER: Camps for Croats in Serbia

DOSSIER: Camps for Croats in Serbia

Dosije-logori-thumb-enOn November 18, 1991, after a three-month siege of the city, the Yugoslav Peoples’ Army (JNA) took over Vukovar with the assistance of the Serbian Territorial Defence Forces (TO) and military volunteer units. Upon occupying the city, a large number of members of the Croatian forces, as well as civilians, were captured by the JNA, including the wounded, women, minors and elderly people.

The JNA transferred those captured persons to the territory of Vojvodina, where already in September 1991 several camps for prisoners of war from the territory of Croatia had been established.

According to research conducted by the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), the largest camp set up in Serbia was at the Sremska Mitrovica Penal Correctional Facility (KPD). In addition to this camp, there were camps in the Banat villages of Begejci and Stajićevo, the JNA barracks in Aleksinac and the Niš Penal Correctional Facility. In Serbia, there were also smaller “transit” camps and centres, where detainees stayed for several days before being transferred to some of the larger camps. Although there were more such camps, in this Dossier we have identified the facilities in Šid, a military police training centre in Bubanj Potok and a JNA barracks in Paragovo.

All the camps – except Niš, which was in the area of responsibility of the 3rd Military District (VO) of the JNA -, were within the area of responsibility of the 1st VO of the JNA. The security of the camp was provided by members of the JNA military police. JNA officers were appointed commanders of the camp; however, the real control of the camps was exercised by the Security Administration of the Federal Secretariat for National Defence (UB SSNO).


Share

Policy Paper: The 1990s Wars in Former Yugoslavia in History Education

Policy Paper: The 1990s Wars in Former Yugoslavia in History Education

predlog-prakticne-primene-enThe state authorities in Serbia have formally committed to raising awareness about the 1990s wars in former Yugoslavia, the war crimes committed during them, and the necessity for their prosecution. The National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes, which the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted in 2016, sets raising awareness and outreach in society as one of its goals. Within the outreach section, the National Strategy addresses formal education, but very briefly, and without binding regulations for educational authorities. The ongoing problem is that, in practice, formal education does not dedicate a lot of attention to the wars that followed the disintegration of Yugoslavia. Although education is mentioned, the National Strategy has not initiated any changes in the way the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s are taught.

Share

War Crimes Trials – Still at The Beginning

War Crimes Trials – Still at The Beginning

hlck

Within the regular activities of the “Monitoring Conflict Related Crime Trials in Kosovo and the Inclusion of the Youth in the Justice Sector” project, in the second half of February 2020, the Humanitarian Law Center in Kosovo (HLCK) finished drafting its planned yearly report on the most significant trials monitored during past year, titled “War Crimes Trials – Still at The Beginning”.

Share

Report on War Crimes Trials in Serbia during 2019

Report on War Crimes Trials in Serbia during 2019

Report_on_war_crimes_trials_2019-en-thumbOn the following link you could read the 8th Report on War Crimes Trias in Serbia during 2019 prepared by the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC).

The HLC has monitored all war crimes trials conducted in the territory of Serbia during 2019, namely a total of 24 cases conducted before the War Crimes Departments of the Higher Court and the Court of Appeal in Belgrade. The Report provides a brief overview of all the cases and of the HLC’s basic findings in respect of proceedings which are of public relevance. A large number of the war crimes cases covered by this Report have been going on for a number of years now, so that previous HLC Reports on war crimes trials may also be consulted for a full grasp of the course of the proceedings and the relevant HLC findings.

The Report focuses on the work of the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor (OWCP) and the courts in sessions open to the public, primarily analysing the indictments and judgments in each particular case. An analysis of the work of other bodies involved in the prosecution of war crimes – the War Crimes Investigation Service of the Serbian Ministry of the Interior (MUP), the Witness Protection Unit and others, could not be undertaken in respect of the individual cases, as no information on their activities was publicly available.

In the reporting period, the War Crimes Department of the Higher Court in Belgrade handed down first-instance judgments in eight cases. The War Crimes Department of the Court of Appeal in Belgrade handed down four judgments and one ruling, two of the judgments and the ruling being on appeals lodged against judgments of the Higher Court in Belgrade, and the two other judgments on appeals against judgments of the Court of Appeal in Belgrade in proceedings in which the Department decided at third instance. Over the reporting period, the OWCP filed three indictments against three individuals.

Since it began working in 2003 until the end of 2019, the OWCP brought indictments in 76 war crimes cases, indicting a total of 198 persons and encompassing 2,454 victims who lost their lives. Three of the cases were joined with cases instituted earlier, and final rulings were rendered in 49 out of 73 cases; one case was terminated on account of the death of the defendant; in three cases the indictments were dismissed because the defendants had been found unfit to stand trial; and 20 cases are ongoing. In those cases which have been finally concluded, a total of 70 defendants have been convicted and 52 acquitted.

Preceding the analyses of the cases in the Report is an overview of general findings on war crimes trials in 2019, and of important socio-political developments which have had some bearing on war crimes trials.

Share