Constitutional Court: Right to Fair Trial Violated In Case of Families of Victims from Sjeverin
The Constitutional Court of Serbia established that the right of the family members of the victims of the war crime in Sjeverin to a trial within a reasonable time, in the compensation lawsuit initiated by the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) on their behalf in 2007 against the Republic of Serbia, was violated. With this ruling, the Constitutional Court of Serbia granted compensation of 600 Euros to each of the 22 applicants.
The HLC filed the constitutional complaint on August 19th, 2013 because of the unjustified protraction of the proceedings before the Basic Court and the Court of Appeals in Belgrade, in which a final judgment has not yet been rendered even six years after the beginning of the proceedings. The HLC’s attorney filed emergency motions with the acting Chamber of the Court of Appeals (Presiding Judge – Melanija Santovac) on two occasions, as well as a complaint with the President of the Court.
Notwithstanding the fact that the Constitutional Court ruled on the HLC’s constitutional complaint in a very short time, the HLC emphasizes that the compensation amount granted is too low, and below the standard of just satisfaction established by the European Court of Human Rights in cases of violations of the right to a trial within a reasonable time. By rendering a ruling on compensation below the standard applied in similar cases, the Constitutional Court has seriously neglected the fact that this is a case of families of victims of enforced disappearance – that is, victims of a war crime -, and that the Basic Court and the Court of Appeals unjustifiably protracted the proceedings, thus showing utter lack of respect for their human dignity.
The right to a trial within a reasonable time is guaranteed by Article 32 of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia and Article 6 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.