Amnesty International: Serbia has made insufficient progress in prosecution of war crimes and protection of rights of victims of war crimes
The international non-governmental organization Amnesty International (AI) has published the 2014 State of the World’s Human Rights Report, in which it presents the state of human rights in 160 countries and territories. AI’s general assessment is that 2014 was a devastating year for all human rights defenders and people located in conflict zones. AI warns that, even though international humanitarian law contains clear rules relative to the protection of civilians during armed conflicts, civilians are still the ones carrying the heaviest burden of conflicts throughout the world. In the year which marked the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, the rules relative to the protection of civilians have been continuously ignored and crushed.
AI assesses that, in the field of the application of transitional justice mechanisms in post-Yugoslav states, progress in the prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity has been very slow. The number of new indictments is still low, whilst war crimes trials in certain cases last too long. Institutions specialized in the prosecution of war crimes do not have sufficient resources and are having to deal with continuous political pressures. In certain cases – like that of the investigation into the Štrpci case– the institutions engaged in the prosecution of war crimes are also dealing with threats addressed to them by former participants in the armed conflicts. Instead of expressing a clear political will to prosecute individuals responsible for the war crimes committed, politicians and representatives of institutions often send messages on the need to turn towards the future instead the past.
The countries throughout the region still deny the right to reparations to civilian victims of war, including the victims of sexual violence. They have not yet adopted comprehensive legislation which would regulate the status of these victims and guarantee the protection of their rights. The rights and livelihoods of family members of the disappeared are still undermined due to the absence of a law on the disappeared.
Amnesty International draws attention to the fact that, once again, there has been no progress in the prosecution of the individuals responsible for the transfer of bodies from Kosovo to secret locations in Serbia.
The AI 2014 State of the World’s Human Rights Report is available here.