HLC Submitted Comments on Third Draft Action Plan for Chapter 23
The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) sent today to the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Serbia the comments regarding the third draft Action Plan for Chapter 23 – Judiciary and Fundamental Rights. The HLC’s comments relate to the development of measures from the Action Plan for the purpose of creating conditions for a more comprehensive prosecution of war crimes and protection of victims’ rights.
The HLC’s suggestions emphasize the importance of a continued training of all relevant actors in the prosecution of war crimes; they point to the need for more substantial financial and technical capacities in the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor; they offer criteria for the prioritization of cases for prosecution; and they propose mechanisms for the enhancement of the work of the War Crimes Investigation Service and the Witness Protection Unit. A number of measures are suggested in the area of witness protection and provision of adequate support for victims of war crimes.
Since the Action Plan for Chapter 23 envisages the adoption of a National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes, the HLC deems it important that the civil society be involved in its creation. At the same time, the HLC introduces the Ministry of Justice to its recently published Model Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes in Serbia.
As for the procedural safeguards, the HLC has proposed an amendment to the Law on Civilian Invalids of War. The Action Plan proposes a harmonization with international standards for the protection of human rights in the definition of the notion of a victim of crime. The Law referred to herein neglects this definition and denies protection to a great number of victims of war crimes and human rights violations committed in the armed conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. For the purpose of amending this void in the Law, the HLC and the Centre for Advanced Legal Studies have created and shared with the institutions of the Republic of Serbia a Model law on the rights of civilian victims of human rights violations committed during and in connection with the armed conflicts in the period 1991-2001.
The HLC has also proposed measures which would guarantee special protection for the victims of sexual violence, timely and detailed informing of victims about their rights and the use of the resources of organizations and institutions specialized in providing assistance and support to victims.