Compensation Lawsuit Against the Republic of Serbia for Torture in Sandžak in 1994
On December 11, 2006 the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed a compensation lawsuit against the Republic of Serbia on behalf of Šefćet Mehmedović, a Bosniak from Novi Pazar, for ethnically motivated torture committed against him by police inspector Bratislav Gerić, an unidentified inspector known by his nickname “Nino”, and several other unidentified members of the Novi Pazar Internal Affairs Secretariat (SUP Novi Pazar) in May of 1994. As a result of the beating, the health of Šefćet Mehmedović is permanently damaged.
According to the statement Šefćet Mehmedović gave to HLC, in May of 1994 he went to the SUP Prizren, for questioning, as requested in a written invitation he received. Upon his arrival to the SUP, the inspector whose identity is unknown to him, asked him whether he possessed weapons and asked him about the SDA activities, the party whose member Mehmedović was. Šefćet Mehmedović wrote a statement on a paper given to him by the inspector whom Šefćet Mehmedović knew by his nickname “Nino”. Dissatisfied with the statement Mehmedović wrote, inspector “Nino” tore it to pieces saying that all of it was a lie, and started slamming him and hitting him with his fists. Both inspectors started beating him with their night sticks, on his soles and hands. They would beat him for half an hour and then order him to stand in a corner while they made a break, and then, after they rested, they would continue torturing him again. After a while, inspector “Nino” handcuffed him and took him to an office where he was beaten again, this time by a different group of police officers, among whom he was only able to recognize inspector Bratislav Gerić.
The torture took place between 15:00 and 21:00. He spent the night in the office, tied to a radiator. In the morning, inspector “Nino” asked him again about the weapons and his participation in anti state activities. After he repeatedly denied all charges, Mehmedović was released but was instructed to report to the police station every three or four days. After that event, Šefćet Mehmedović went to the police station 11 times. Each time they would only ask him to confess that he possessed firearms, and each time after dening it, he was allowed to go.
In the time of armed conflicts in BiH, members of the Serbian Interior Ministry on the Sandžak territory made regular weapon searches of Bosniak houses looking for illegal weapons. After the search of their houses, the Bosniaks were taken to the police station, although no illegal weapons were found in their homes. Once in the police station, they were usually tortured both physically and psychologically as the ultimate goal was to extort statements from them that they possessed illegal weapons and they took part in “anti-state activities”. Although these cases were reported to the authorities, there has been no serious investigation or a disciplinary procedure. On the contrary, according to the HLC data, the majority of police officers who took part in the beating of Sandžak Bosniaks are still employed with the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Serbia.
The HLC is urging the state institutions in Serbia to adopt reparation programs for victims of human rights abuses in the past. The General Assembly of the UN on its session held on December 15, 2005 adopted a Resolution (Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law) inviting all members States to act in accordance with their domestic laws and international legal obligations and provide for reparation for acts or omissions which may be attributed to the State, and which in their nature constitute gross violations of international human rights law or serious violations of international humanitarian law.