The HLC presents its Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes and Policy Paper: Prosecution of Crimes of Sexual Violence during Armed Conflicts before the Courts of the Republic of Serbia

The HLC presents its Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes and Policy Paper: Prosecution of Crimes of Sexual Violence during Armed Conflicts before the Courts of the Republic of Serbia

predstavljanje_petog_izvestajaOn Monday, 23 December 2019, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) presented its fifth Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes (Report). Opening a discussion on the Report, Ivana Žanić, Executive Director of the HLC, said that the National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes (the National Strategy) had been adopted with the aim of improving war crimes prosecution in Serbia, but also of shifting society’s attitude towards dealing with the past i.e. with the crimes committed during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. Given that the National Strategy expires in 2020, continued Žanić, it cannot be said that it has accomplished its overall aim to date, since war crimes trials prosecution has not improved, nor has public perception regarding these themes changed.


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

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

fifth_report-enThe Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) has been monitoring and providing support to war crimes trials ever 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. The HLC has been filing criminal complaints against suspected perpetrators with the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutors (OWCP), and it has also been identifying witnesses and victims and encouraging them to give evidence in court, and thus contribute to achieving justice for past crimes.

The National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes (hereinafter: the National Strategy) was adopted in February 2016. The HLC is the only non-governmental organisation that monitors and reports on its implementation with a view to assisting in a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the state of implementation of the measures and activities set forth in the National Strategy.

This is the fifth HLC report on the implementation of the National Strategy. It covers the period from 1 June 2019 to 1 December 2019. A comprehensive assessment of the state implementation of the National Strategy in the preceding period is provided in the Initial Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes, the Second Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes, the Third Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes and the Fourth Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes which were released and presented in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

As shown by the findings presented in this fifth report, no progress in war crimes prosecutions can be reported for the 44 months since the adoption of the National Strategy. Out of the total of 23 indictments that have been filed since the adoption of the National Strategy, 19 were transferred to the OWCP from B&H. War crimes trials continue to be lengthy, the procedural rights of victims have not been strengthened, and the number of persons identified as missing has been decreasing slower than expected. As regards the attitudes towards war crimes and war crimes trials in Serbia, the past several months have been marked by the continued public promotion of convicted war criminals.

Fifth Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes is available here.

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Policy Paper: Prosecution of Crimes of Sexual Violence during Armed Conflicts before the Courts of the Republic of Serbia

Policy Paper: Prosecution of Crimes of Sexual Violence during Armed Conflicts before the Courts of the Republic of Serbia

predlog_prakticne_politike-enIn 1991 and 1992, while conflict took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the international community was interested in allegations by the media and non-governmental organisations that sexual violence was frequently committed. As a result, certain domestic and international organisations, began investigating those media allegations, and the UN Security Council formed the Panel of Experts, with the aim of determining whether sexual violence was strategically used as a weapon of war. The report submitted by the Panel of Experts influenced the establishment of the ICTY in 1993 and the creation of a new legal framework dealing with sexual violence.

Although the extent of sexual violence committed in the former Yugoslavia is undoubtedly huge, the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutors has so far prosecuted only 10 cases of sexual violence committed during the conflict, out of which one case was about sexual violence for which criminal charges were pressed as late as 2018, whereas the other nine cases were about sexual violence and murder.

This policy paper is intended for Serbian institutions responsible for investigating and processing wartime sexual violence. Namely, the HLC has been monitoring all trials before the War Crimes Department of the Higher Court in Belgrade since 2003. During its sixteen years of existence, the HLC has identified certain defects that must be removed to ensure successful prosecution of crimes before the domestic court. In view of this, this policy paper is divided into two parts. The first part contains an analysis of the international framework for the prosecution of these crimes, whereas the second is focused on the domestic legislative framework related to them and contains recommendations for its improvement.

The Policy Paper is available here.

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Presentation of the Fifth Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes and Policy Paper: Prosecution of Crimes of Sexual Violence during Armed Conflicts before the Courts of the Republic of Serbia

Presentation of the  Fifth Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes and  Policy Paper: Prosecution of Crimes of Sexual Violence during Armed Conflicts before the Courts of the Republic of Serbia

Logo FHPOn Monday, December 23, 2019, at 12:00 the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) will present its Fifth Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes and the Policy Paper: Prosecution of Crimes of Sexual Violence during Armed Conflicts before the Courts of the Republic of Serbia. The presentation will take place in the Main Conference Hall of the Media Centre in Belgrade (Terazije 3, 2nd floor).

In February 2016, the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted its first National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes 2016-2020 (National Strategy). The HLC reports on the implementation of the National Strategy, in order to offer its conclusions and research findings on the state of implementation of this Strategy.

The Fifth HLC Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy (Report) provides an overview of the implementation of activities in the period from 1 June 2019 to 1 December 2019, in eight areas covered by the National Strategy. The Report points to key deficiencies and identifies recommendations for improving the situation in these areas.

On this occasion, the HLC will also present its Policy Paper: Prosecution of Crimes of Sexual Violence during Armed Conflicts before the Courts of the Republic of Serbia, which analyses the national framework for prosecution of such crimes, giving recommendations for its improvement.

Speakers:

  • Ivana Žanić, Humanitarian Law Center
  • Višnja Šijačić, Humanitarian Law Center
  • Safeta Biševac, journalist of the daily newspaper Danas
  • Lamija Tiro, TRIAL International

Simultaneous interpretation into English will be provided.

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The HLC’s “Policy Proposal: Improving the Rights and Status of Victims and Witnesses in War Crimes Proceedings” presented at a press conference in Belgrade

The HLC’s “Policy Proposal: Improving the Rights and Status of Victims and Witnesses in War Crimes Proceedings” presented at a press conference in Belgrade

Predstavljen-Predlog-10.12.2019On Friday, 6th December 2019, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) presented its “Policy Proposal/Policy Paper: Improving the Rights and Status of Victims and Witnesses in War Crimes Proceedings in Serbia”. In her opening remarks, the HLC’s Ivana Žanić recalled that the HLC is the only non-governmental organisation in Serbia that has been monitoring and analysing all war crimes trials before the courts in Serbia, and informing the domestic and international public about them since 2002.  Its long-term experience and in-depth knowledge of war crimes trials in Serbia, said Žanić,  has enabled the HLC to identify problems and shortcomings in the existing victim/witness protection system, and develop a policy paper which discusses the current state of play and formulates recommendations aimed at enhancing the rights and position of victims and witnesses in war crimes trials in Serbia. She pointed out that the policy proposal is based on information obtained from the competent authorities, as well as from victims through interviews conducted as part of the HLC’s field research on the subject. Other important sources of information have been the HLC’s previous analyses and reports.  Žanić concluded by stating that the findings of the research show that victims who have chosen to testify before the courts in Serbia are exposed to a great deal of emotional strain during, before and after the testimony, as a result of the reliving of their traumatic experiences.


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Policy Paper: Improving the Status and Rights of Victims and Witnesses in War Crimes Proceedings in Serbia

Policy Paper: Improving the Status and Rights of Victims and Witnesses in War Crimes Proceedings in Serbia

Predlog-prakticne-politike-enThe role of victims in war crimes proceedings is irreplaceable, as their testimonies in these proceedings are often the key evidence that can support the allegations in the indictment. In order to ensure a smooth and efficient trial, it is crucial that victims have the support of the institutions responsible for prosecution, and that they are informed about court proceedings and their rights, so that their testimony is of as high a quality as possible, but the consequences for them in  life afterwards as minimal as possible. The attitude of the competent judicial authorities towards victims greatly affects their decision to participate in criminal proceedings, as well as their sense of confidence in the judicial system. In view of the fact that giving testimony is very traumatic for many victims, it is vital that the judicial system recognises the needs and concerns of the victims and provides them with the support and necessary information to reduce re-traumatisation and, at the same time, prepare them for quality testimony.

Over the past 16 years, since the establishment and operation of the War Crimes Department of the Higher Court in Belgrade, the Humanitarian Law Centre (HLC) has identified a number of deficiencies in the victim and witness support system in war crimes proceedings. Some of the shortcomings are: an inadequate normative framework governing the status of victims and witnesses; the insufficient capacities of the institutions in charge of assistance and support to victims and witnesses during all stages of criminal proceedings; and  the insufficient training and sensitivity of employees in institutions competent for war crimes proceedings.

The Policy Paper: Improving the Status and Rights of Victims and Witnesses in War Crimes Proceedings in Serbia analyses the legal and institutional framework governing the rights of victims and witnesses, and identifies existing problems regarding the status of victims and witnesses, with the aim of proposing recommendations to the institutions of Serbia responsible for war crimes prosecutions for improving the conditions under which victims testify during criminal proceedings before the courts in Serbia.

The Policy Paper is available here.

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Presentation of “Policy paper: Enhancing the rights and position of victims and witnesses in war crimes trials in Serbia”

Presentation of “Policy paper: Enhancing the rights and position of victims and witnesses in war crimes trials in Serbia”

Predlog-prakticne-politike-enOn Friday, 6th December 2019, at 11:00 a.m., the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) will present its “Policy paper: Enhancing the rights and position of victims and witnesses in war crimes trials in Serbia”. The presentation will take place in the Main Conference Hall of the Media Center in Belgrade (Terazije 3, 2nd floor).

Drawing upon its long-term experience with war crimes prosecutions in Serbia, the HLC has identified certain problems and shortcomings in the existing victim/witness protection system, and prepared a policy paper for enhancing the rights and position of victims and witnesses in war crimes trials in Serbia.

 

Speakers:

  • Meris Mušanović, Humanitarian Law Center
  • Ivana Žanić, Humanitarian Law Center
  • Suvada Selimović, witness in the Zvornik II Case
  • Biljana Slavković, psychotherapist

Simultaneous translation into English will be provided.

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Sixth Transitional Justice School

Logo FHPFrom November 5 to 10, 2019, the Sixth Transitional Justice School (TJ School) of the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) was held. The TJ School was attended by 18 students of law, political science, history, Scandinavian languages and sociology, as well as activists from Serbian non-governmental organisations.

The participants gained knowledge about the concept and mechanisms of transitional justice, and its application in Serbia in the context of the armed conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, with a consideration of case studies of crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Kosovo. In addition to the opportunity to learn the facts established before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the participants had the opportunity to hear about the results and challenges of war crimes prosecutions before the courts in Serbia, Croatia, BiH and Kosovo. Besides learning about the facts established before the ICTY and national courts, the participants also had the opportunity to learn about topics related to institutional reform, lustration, and reparations, as well as topics related to memorialisation.


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Presentation of the HLC Dossier “Forcible Mobilisation of Refugees”

Presentation of the HLC Dossier “Forcible Mobilisation of Refugees”

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On  Wednesday, November 13, 2019, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) will present its twelfth  dossier, entitled “Forcible Mobilisation of Refugees” (Dossier). The presentation will take place in the Great Hall of the Media Center in Belgrade (Terazije 3, II floor) at 12:00.

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