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


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


Draft Law on War Veteran and Disability Rights retains provisions that discriminate against civilian victims of war

Logo FHP

On Friday 21 December 2018, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) submitted to the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Veteran and Social Affairs (Ministry) its comments on the Draft Law on Veteran and Disability Benefits (Draft Law). In the comments the HLC points out that the public consultation process that preceded the preparation of the draft law was non- transparent and that the text of the Draft Law, instead of improving the position of civilian victims of war, maintains the discriminatory provisions contained in the law currently in effect, as a result of which civilian victims of war are put in an unfavourable position in relation to military victims of war.

In early August 2018, the Ministry established a working group to draft a law which would comprehensively regulate the rights of war veterans. Only members of war veteran and disabled servicemen associations were invited to participate in the working group. Associations of civilian victims, gathered around the Alliance of Serbian Associations of the Families of Missing Persons from the Territory of the former Yugoslavia, as well as interested experts in the field and other stakeholders were excluded from the process. Moreover, apart from announcing that the working group had been set up, the Ministry did not publish either of the two versions of the Draft Law on its website for comments. It was from the website of the Association of Disabled Wartime and Peacetime Veterans of Serbia that the HLC got hold of the Draft Law dated 9 December 2018. By not publishing the Draft Law on its website and not including associations of war-disabled civilians and civilian victims of war in the consultation process, the Ministry made it impossible for those interested parties to contribute their views on the proposed legislation.


Sjeverin, 26 years later: the search for truth, justice and recognition continues

sjeverin-thumbToday we mark the 26th anniversary of the abduction and killing of 17 citizens of Serbia of Bosniak nationality from Sjeverin near Priboj, who were taken captive by members of the Republika Srpska Army (VRS) during the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), the Sandžak Committee for the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms (Sandžak Committee) and Women in Black wish to remind the public that the long-standing search by the families for the mortal remains of the victims has not yet ended, and that it is unacceptable that the institutions of Serbia, even after 26 years, still persist in refusing to provide victims’ families with fair compensation, support and recognition.

On October 22nd 1992, members of the “Osvetnici” (“Avengers”; text available in Serbian), a paramilitary unit which operated under the auspices of the Republika Srpska Army, stopped a bus of the Užice-based company “Raketa” near the bridge over the River Lim in Mioče (BiH). The bus was travelling on its usual Priboj-Rudo-Priboj route. After the identities of every passenger had been checked, 16 Bosniaks were taken out of the bus: Mehmed Šebo, Zafer Hadžić, Medo Hodžić, Medredin Hodžić, Ramiz Begović, Derviš Softić, Mithad Softić, Mujo Alihodžić, Alija Mandal, Sead Pecikoza, Mustafa Bajramović, Hajrudin Sajtarević, Esad Džihić, Idriz Gibović, Ramahudin Ćatović and Mevlida Koldžić. They were taken by military truck in the direction of Višegrad, where they were brutally beaten, and then killed on the banks of the River Drina. The night before this event, Sabahudin Ćatović was abducted in front of his family house in Sjeverin. He has disappeared without a trace.


Justice deprived of majority of victims


On June 28th 2018, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) presented its Report, “Circumventing Justice: The Statute of Limitation as a Mechanism for Denying War Victims the Right to Compensation”.  The Report analyses the practice of courts of the Republic of Serbia in proceedings for the compensation of damages which have occurred as a consequence of the conflicts during the 1990s, and the way in which the courts have interpreted the legal provisions that apply to the statute of limitation for damages arising from a criminal offence.


Circumventing Justice The Statute of Limitations as a Mechanism for Denying War Victims the Right to Compensation

zaobilazenje_pravde-enThe Republic of Serbia participated in all the armed conflicts that took place in the territory of the former Yugoslavia during the last decade of the twentieth century. A large number of people died, or disappeared, or became refugees, and very many suffered enormous material and non-pecuniary damage as a result of these conflicts.

The obligation of the Republic of Serbia to provide just compensation to victims of human rights violations arises not only from the substantial provisions of the Serbian Constitution and domestic regulations but also from the international conventions that Serbia has ratified.

In spite of the existence of clear provisions of both domestic and international law and the well-established case-law of international bodies, victims in Serbia find it virtually impossible to enforce their right to reparations before the domestic courts. The difficulties victims face in the process are varied. The standard of proof is set too high, court proceedings drag on for several years, courts do not believe the victims and their evidence, to name just a few. Provisions governing statutory-limitation periods for filing compensation claims – or rather, the way Serbian judges interpret them, is one of the major obstacles faced by victims.

The report Circumventing Justice: The Statute of Limitations as a Mechanism for Denying War Victims the Right to Compensation points out the marked tendency of the domestic judiciary to interpret statute of limitations rules in a manner that leads to the denial of the right to compensation for the victims of gross violations of human rights, by ruling their right to compensation time-barred. Such an arbitrary application of the statute of limitations for bringing compensation claims works against the interests of the victims and amounts to a grave violation of the right to a fair trial guaranteed by both domestic and international regulations.


The Global Reparations Summit

gr-2018On 25-26 March 2018, the Global Initiative for Justice, Truth and Reconciliation (GIJTR), of which the Humanitarian Law Center is a member, organized the Global Reparations Summit in Belgrade, Serbia.


25 years since the Kukurovići crime

Victims punished for unwillingness of State to prosecute those responsible for this crime


On February 18 2018, 25 years have passed since the Yugoslav Army (VJ)’s attack on the Sandžak village of Kukurovići. In this attack, almost the entire village was demolished, and three citizens of Bosniak nationality were killed. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) and the Sandžak Committee for the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms (Sandžak Committee) would like to draw attention to the fact that even 25 years after this crime against civilians – citizens of Serbia, nobody has been found responsible, and the state of Serbia has not provided the victims with adequate recognition and reparations.


25 years since the crime in Sjeverin It is our duty to remember and respect the victims of war crimes


On Sunday, October 22nd it will be exactly 25 years since the kidnapping and murder of 17 Serbian citizens of Bosniak ethnicity near Sjeverin, in the Priboj municipality. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) and the Sandzak Committee for the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms (Sandzak Committee) reiterate that the Serbian authorities, even after 25 years, have not undertaken any action to fulfill their moral and legal obligations towards the victims’ families, neither in terms of finding the victims’ mortal remains, nor in providing a fair compensation.


The European Court transfers the responsibility for the non-prosecution of crimes from the Prosecution to the Victims

imagesOne year after it rejected the application of former detainees from the Šljivovica and Mitrovo Polje camps, the European Court of Human Rights issued a decision on October 19 2017 declaring the second application, submitted on behalf of family members of the killed camp detainees, inadmissible. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), which represented the victims’ families in these proceedings, points out that the European Court re-used the same, factually unsustainable structure of reasoning in order to transfer the responsibility for the inactivity of war crimes prosecutions from the state to the victims themselves.