Report „The right to reparation in compensation lawsuits: the practice of Serbian courts 2017-2020“

Izvestaj-reparacije-en

In March 12th, 2021 the Humanitarian Law Center presented the report „The right to reparation in compensation lawsuits: the practice of Serbian courts 2017-2020“.

This report covers the analysis of cases which were active in the period between 2017 and 2020. Since the duration of most of these cases is longer than three years, for the ease of following the course of the proceedings, this report gives a brief overview of the course of the proceedings even before 2017.

The report is divided into three parts. First part analyzes the legal framework that regulates the victims’ right to reparation in Serbia. Second part analyzes individual cases where the HLC represented the victims, while third part deals with the main problems that the HLC has identified in its work as key obstacles hindering the victims from vindicating their reparation claims.

The report is available on this link

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Report on War Crimes Trials in Serbia during 2019

Report_on_war_crimes_trials_2019-en-thumbOn the following link you could read the 8th Report on War Crimes Trias in Serbia during 2019 prepared by the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC).

The HLC has monitored all war crimes trials conducted in the territory of Serbia during 2019, namely a total of 24 cases conducted before the War Crimes Departments of the Higher Court and the Court of Appeal in Belgrade. The Report provides a brief overview of all the cases and of the HLC’s basic findings in respect of proceedings which are of public relevance. A large number of the war crimes cases covered by this Report have been going on for a number of years now, so that previous HLC Reports on war crimes trials may also be consulted for a full grasp of the course of the proceedings and the relevant HLC findings.

The Report focuses on the work of the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor (OWCP) and the courts in sessions open to the public, primarily analysing the indictments and judgments in each particular case. An analysis of the work of other bodies involved in the prosecution of war crimes – the War Crimes Investigation Service of the Serbian Ministry of the Interior (MUP), the Witness Protection Unit and others, could not be undertaken in respect of the individual cases, as no information on their activities was publicly available.

In the reporting period, the War Crimes Department of the Higher Court in Belgrade handed down first-instance judgments in eight cases. The War Crimes Department of the Court of Appeal in Belgrade handed down four judgments and one ruling, two of the judgments and the ruling being on appeals lodged against judgments of the Higher Court in Belgrade, and the two other judgments on appeals against judgments of the Court of Appeal in Belgrade in proceedings in which the Department decided at third instance. Over the reporting period, the OWCP filed three indictments against three individuals.

Since it began working in 2003 until the end of 2019, the OWCP brought indictments in 76 war crimes cases, indicting a total of 198 persons and encompassing 2,454 victims who lost their lives. Three of the cases were joined with cases instituted earlier, and final rulings were rendered in 49 out of 73 cases; one case was terminated on account of the death of the defendant; in three cases the indictments were dismissed because the defendants had been found unfit to stand trial; and 20 cases are ongoing. In those cases which have been finally concluded, a total of 70 defendants have been convicted and 52 acquitted.

Preceding the analyses of the cases in the Report is an overview of general findings on war crimes trials in 2019, and of important socio-political developments which have had some bearing on war crimes trials.

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Fourth Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes

Izvestaj-Strategija-IV_korice_eng1The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) has been monitoring and providing support to war crimes trials ever since the first war crimes proceedings conducted in Serbia in 2002. The HLC is the only organization that has been continuously monitoring and analyzing war crimes trials in Serbia and informing the public at home and abroad about them. HLC has been filing criminal complaints against suspected perpetrators and sharing its documentation on war crimes with the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutors (OWCP). Also, the HLC has been identifying witnesses and victims and encouraging them to give evidence in court and thus contribute to achieving justice for past crimes.


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Report on War Crimes Trials in Serbia

izvestaj_o_SZRZ-2019-enThis is the seventh report of the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) on war crimes trials in Serbia. The HLC has monitored all war crimes trials conducted in the territory of Serbia during 2017 and 2018, a total of 20 trials, conducted by the War Crimes Departments of the Higher Court in Belgrade or the Court of Appeal in Belgrade, including one trial conducted by a court of general jurisdiction. A brief overview of all cases observed, and the HLC’s key findings on each case of interest to the public, are provided in the Report.

A significant portion of the war crimes proceedings presented in the Report have been ongoing for a number of years. Therefore the previous annual HLC Reports on war crimes trials may also be consulted for full appreciation of the course of the proceedings and the corresponding findings. The Report also includes a trial for a criminal offence that the competent prosecutor’s office of general jurisdiction did not classify as a war crime, despite all the circumstances of the case indicating otherwise.

The Report focuses particularly on the work of the War Crimes Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor (OWCP) and of the courts (in the parts of the proceedings which are open to the public), and analyses the indictments and judgments in each individual case. An analysis of the work of other institutions involved in war crimes prosecution (the War Crimes Investigation Service of the Serbian Ministry of the Interior, the Witness Protection Unit, et al.) could not be made within the context of each case because of the lack of publicly available information about their work.

The War Crimes Department of the Higher Court in Belgrade handed down first-instance judgments in three cases over the reporting period. The War Crimes Department of the Court of Appeal in Belgrade handed down four rulings on appeals against judgments passed by the Higher Court in Belgrade. One interim judgment was handed down by a court of general jurisdiction, and was subsequently confirmed by the Court of Appeal. The OWCP issued a total of 14 indictments over the reporting period, three in 2017 (against four individuals), and 11 in 2018 (against 15 individuals), as indicated in the information supplied to the HLC by the OWCP.

The Report on War Crimes Trials in Serbia is available here.

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Third Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes

treci-izvestaj-enThe Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) has been monitoring and providing support to war crimes trials ever since the first war crimes proceedings conducted in Serbia in 2002. The HLC is the only organization that has been continuously monitoring and analysing war crimes trials in Serbia and informing the public at home and abroad about them. It has been representing victims (injured parties) in war crimes cases through an Attorney, filing criminal complaints with the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutors (OWCP) against suspected perpetrators, and sharing its documentation on war crimes. Also, the HLC has been identifying witnesses and victims and encouraging them to give evidence in court and thus contribute towards achieving justice for past crimes.

The National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes (hereinafter: the National Strategy) was adopted in February 2016. The HLC is the only non-governmental organisation that monitors and reports on its implementation with a view to assisting in a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the state of implementation of the measures and activities set forth in the National Strategy.

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Second Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes

Drugi_izvestaj-enThe Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) has been monitoring and providing support to war crimes trials ever since the first war crimes proceedings conducted in Serbia in 2002. The HLC is the only organization that has been continuously monitoring and analysing war crimes trials in Serbia and informing the public at home and abroad about them. It has been representing victims (injured parties) in war crimes cases through an Attorney, filing criminal complaints with the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutors against suspected perpetrators, and sharing its documentation on war crimes. Also, the HLC has been identifying witnesses and victims and encouraging them to give evidence in court and thus contribute to achieving justice for past crimes.

The HLC has been monitoring the implementation of the National Strategy in order to offer its independent assessment of and findings on the state of implementation of the National Strategy. This is the second report on the implementation of the National Strategy that the HLC is presenting. For complete insight into the implementation of the National Strategy, the First Report on the Implementation of the National War Crimes Prosecution Strategy, which was presented by the HLC in December 2017, is also relevant.

As shown by the HLC’s findings, no progress in war crimes prosecutions can be reported for the two years since the adoption of the National Strategy. The implementation of the National Strategy has been severely delayed, and 11 of the 12 indictments that have been issued since the adoption of the National Strategy were not the result of the OWCP investigation but transferred to the OWCP from BiH. War crimes trials continue to be unnecessarily protracted, the procedural rights of victims have not been strengthened, the number of missing persons is decreasing at a slower pace than foreseen in the National Strategy, and the relevant international governmental and non-governmental organisations have negative opinions about Serbia’s progress in the prosecution of war crimes.

The Second Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes  is available here.

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Report on War Crimes Trials in Serbia during 2016

Izvestaj_o_sudjenjima_za_2016_engThe Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) has monitored all war crimes trials conducted in the territory of Serbia in 2016 – that is to say, a total of 26 trials conducted by the War Crimes Departments of the Higher Court or the Court of Appeal in Belgrade, or the courts of general jurisdiction.

The Report on War Crimes Trials in Serbia during 2016 features a brief overview of all 26 cases observed and the HLC’s key findings on each case, which the public needs to be informed about. Given that a significant portion of the war crimes proceedings presented in the Report have been ongoing for a number of years, the previous annual HLC Reports on war crimes trials should also be consulted for a full appreciation of the course of the proceedings and the corresponding findings. The Report also covers trials for crimes that are not classified as war crimes by the relevant prosecutor’s offices of general jurisdiction; despite the fact that the circumstances of such cases indicate they do constitute war crimes.

The Report focuses particularly on the work of prosecutor’s offices and courts, notably in the analysis of indictments and judgments. An analysis of the work of other institutions involved in war crimes prosecution (the War Crimes Investigation Service of the Serbian Ministry of the Interior, the Protection Unit, etc.) could not be made within the context of each case as a result of the lack of publicly available information on their work.

The War Crimes Department of the Higher Court in Belgrade handed down first-instance judgments in three cases over the reporting period, and a judgement accepting a plea agreement concluded between the OWCP and a the defendant. The War Crimes Department of the Court of Appeal in Belgrade has issued six rulings on appeals against judgments passed by the Higher Court in Belgrade. The courts of general jurisdiction handed down four judgments. Eight OWCP’s indictments were confirmed in the reporting period against 15 individuals accused of a war crime against a civilian population.

The analyses of the cases in the Report are preceded by an overview of the general findings on war crimes trials in 2016, and a summary of the significant social and political events that had a bearing on the war crimes trials.

The Report on War Crimes Trials in Serbia during 2016 is available here.

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TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE IN SERBIA in the period from 2013 to 2015

Izvestaj_o_TP_enThe aim of the report „Transitional Justice in Serbia in the period from 2013 to 2015“ is to inform the domestic and international publics on the progress of the process of establishing transitional justice in Serbia.

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Access to documents related to crimes against international law in the possesion of Serbian institutions: State Secret Prevails over Right to the Truth

Drzavna tajnaOpen access to archives which contain documents that can assist in determining the facts about past human rights violations is a key prerequisite for the establishment of transitional justice processes and mechanisms. In societies like the Serbian, which have experienced periods marked by systematic violence, access to information regarding human rights violations is an essential element of the right of victims and society as a whole to know the truth.

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Report on War Crimes Trials in Serbia during 2014 and 2015

dvogodisnji_izvestaj_korice_engThe biannual report on war crimes trials in Serbia offers an insight into all war crimes trials conducted  before the Higher Court and the Appellate Court in Belgrade, as well as before the courts of general jurisdiction. The report gives a brief overview of proceedings for 27 cases, as well as the basic findings of the HLC regarding the cases.

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