Republic of Serbia in violation of UN Human Rights Committee decisions

Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) believes that the decision of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Serbia (VSS) to overturn the Request for the protection of legality filed by the Office of the Prosecutor of the Republic of Serbia (RS) which is based on the Decision of the UN Human Rights Committee in favour of journalist Željko Bodrožić, is yet another proof that, although a signatory thereof, RS does not act in compliance with international human rights conventions.

RS is a signatory of many conventions in the area of international human rights law, among which are International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments and punishment (Convention against torture). By ratifying these treaties and by accepting their additional protocols, human rights respect standards became an incorporated part of domestic judicial system, which means that the State accepted the jurisdiction of international bodies created on the premises of these treaties (Committee against torture, Committee for the elimination of racial discrimination, and Human Rights Committee), who investigate individual cases of human rights abuse. RS is obliged to implement decisions handed down by any of these bodies.

Since 1998 to date, HLC filed six communications for the consideration of UN Committees for cases involving Serbia, while the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights filed one. Those are: the case of late Milan Ristić, the case of late Nikola Nikolić, the case of torture of Roma man Jovica Dimitrov, the case of torture of Roma man Dragan Dimitrijević, the case of torture of Roma man Danilo Dimitrijević, the case of discrimination of Roma man Dragan Durmić, and the case of journalist Želko Bodrožić. All decisions of the Committee are virtually the same: RS violated the rights of its citizens guaranteed by the ratified International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Reactions of the State in all of these cases ware also identical: recommendations contained in the decisions have not been implemented, so that the obligation of the State to act in compliance with these conventions is violated twice.

The decision of the VSS best illustrates the attitude of State organs towards international human rights law, because, as stated in the disposition of the Decision, VSS only insists on the compliance of the Decision of the District Court in Zrenjanin with domestic laws, completely ignoring obligations to respect human rights standards arising from international documents which Serbia signed and ratified. From the point of view of the UN Committee and the European Human Rights Court, arguments presented by VSS cannot relieve the State of obligations for disrespect of the rights of its citizens to the extent to which it is guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

HLC would like to emphasize that although often mentioned as “a warrant of Serbia’s commitment to Euro-Atlantic integrations”, due to such acts of state organs, ratified international human rights conventions are basically non-applicable for the time being.