EP: Serbia to end impunity and take responsibility for war crimes
On June 14th 2017, after several months of delay, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a Resolution on the European Commission 2016 Report on Serbia. The Report presents a regular annual review of the progress of Serbia towards fulfilling the criteria for accession to the European Union, and it relies on the annual report of the European Commission on Serbia. The Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) urged Serbia to strengthen cooperation with neighbouring countries and encourage good neighbourly relations, as well as to invest greater effort in resolving bilateral issues. In terms of war crimes, Serbia is expected to eliminate impunity, accept responsibility and take very concrete steps towards overcoming the legacy of the armed conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.
In the domain of War Crimes Trials, the MPs agreed that the adoption of the National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes is a positive step towards ending impunity for war crimes, but at the same time they have called for its implementation, reminding those concerned of the importance of adopting the prosecutorial strategy. Regional prosecutorial cooperation is important for the effective prosecution of war crimes and solving the most pressing problems in this area. In addition to trials before the courts in Serbia, full cooperation with the ICTY remains essential.
Regarding the issue of reparations, the EP expressed concern over the Bill of Rights of Civilian Invalids of War, because it denies the rights of certain categories of civilian victims of war, and called on the Serbian authorities to reconsider this proposal.
Serbia should engage intensively in searching for missing persons, locating mass graves, and guaranteeing all victims and their families the exercise of the rights to which they are entitled.
In addition to reiterating its support for the Initiative for the Establishment of RECOM, the EP urges the Government of the Republic of Serbia to lead the way towards its establishment.
Finally, the Committee has insisted that Serbia condemns all forms of hate speech, and of public approval and denial of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The MEPs expressed serious concern about the „tensions between Serbia and Kosovo that have occurred owing to the first run of the train on the line between Belgrade and Mitrovica, as well as the warmongering statements and rhetoric directed against the EU“.
The Resolution reflects all the proposals submitted by the Humanitarian Law Center.