Republic of Serbia in Violation of International Conventions: In Regard of the Acquittal of Bishop Pahomije

In regard of the Niš Municipal Court’s acquittal of Bishop Pahomije, the Humanitarian Law Center would like to point to the violations of certain international conventions signed by Serbia and Montenegro, which occurred during this procedure.

State authorities failed to take any measures to prevent the public release of defendant Bishop’s defence counsellor’s statement that this case involved the actions of Albanian and Macedonian secret services, by which the injured parties were discriminated against, and so was Article 2 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly’s Resolutions 44/25 on 20 November 1989. According to the same document, the state is obliged to protect child from the violence of person who has the care of the child (Article 19), as well as to prevent the degrading treatment of children (Article 37a)—we would like to remind the public that during this procedure, the injured parties were examined four times, no less!

The Republic of Serbia, through the acts, which the Niš Municipal Court undertook to date, has directly violated the following articles of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Right of the Child on the trafficking of children, children prostitution, and children pornography (adopted by the UN Resolution A/RES/54/263 on 25 May 2000):
•    Article 8.1a, which requires recognizing the vulnerability of child victims and adapting procedures to recognize their special needs, including their special needs as witnesses;
•    Article 8.1b, according to which children must be informed of the timing and progress of the proceedings and of the disposition of their rights;
•    Article 8.1g, which requires avoiding unnecessary delay in the disposition of cases; and
•    Article 8.3, which prescribes that the state parties shall ensure that, in the treatment of the criminal justice system, the best interest of the child shall be a primary.

Since all of these international norms are obligatory, and the connection between the Vranje Bishop Pahomije and the Republic of Serbia’s delegation for the negotiations on the future status of Kosovo exists without any doubt, the HLC is asking whether the violation of these obligatory regulations was an accident, a consequence of ignorance, or a need to show that in Serbia, priests accused of sexual abuse are placed above and beyond the law.