We – nongovernmental organisations with experience in providing support and assistance to victims of violent crimes – signatories of this Initiative,
Recognising and supporting the efforts of the Republic of Serbia towards the improvement of legislative and institutional framework aimed at ensuring better positions of victims, especially victims who survived violence, abuse or discrimination, we emphasize the significance of recent ratification of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (October 2013), as well as the ratification of UN and Council of Europe’s conventions on the protection of victims of trafficking in human beings which should ensure necessary changes in order to provide efficient, effective and adequate access to justice for victims, including right to compensation.
Having in mind Republic of Serbia’s commitment to EU membership, we estimate that in the process of harmonisation significant adjustments will have to be made with regard to a large number of standards which contribute to better protection of victims and provide them with better access to compensation through different (judicial and administrative) proceedings.
Indicating that current practice of criminal courts that refer victims/injured parties to litigation to realize their right to compensation has proven to be inadequate for the majority of victims in the Republic of Serbia; consequently right to compensation as one of the basic victims’ right remains without legal protection and victims themselves are left without any compensation for damages they suffered.
Indicating that, in the area of building legislative framework and systemic measures that should ensure realisation of victims’ right to compensation state institutions do not put enough effort and create insufficiently harmonised policies. The Republic of Serbia is the signatory of the European Convention on the Compensation to Victims of Violent Crimes (October 2010), but the process of ratification has not started yet. At the same time, one of the two reservations the Republic of Serbia put on the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence relates to Article 30, Paragraph 2, i.e. the establishment of State mechanism for compensation of victims of this offence. We are also pointing to a range of standards that should be adopted in internal legislation which are envisaged by the EU Directive Establishing Minimum Standards on the Rights, Support and Protection of Victims of Crime.
Having in mind that the right to fair compensation is based on the principles of justice, fairness and victims’ right to compensation and that the government, by establishing an appropriate mechanism, would send a clear message that it recognises suffering and damage the victims survived and that it would represent a significant indicator of victims’ trust into the state and its judicial system, we are of the opinion that there are no adequate access to justice for victims of serious crimes without introducing efficient mechanisms for deciding on and ensuring one of the basic victims’ rights guaranteed by international standards.
Having in mind the abovementioned, we are calling on the Republic of Serbia as soon as possible to:
- Ratify European Convention on the Compensation of Victims of Violent Crimes
- Remove reservation from Article 30, Paragraph 2 of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence which prevents the establishment of a mechanism envisaged under the Convention for the realisation of right to compensation to those who have sustained serious bodily injury or impairment of health if the damage is not covered by other sources, and
- Adopt adequate legislative or other solution which would ensure an effective mechanism through which the state would, in the spirit of the provisions of the Convention on the Compensation of Victims of Violent Crimes, fulfil its obligation with regard to ensuring compensation and access to justice for victims
ASTRA – Anti Trafficking Action
Autonomous Women’s Centre
Belgrade Center for Human Rights
YUKOM – Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights
Humanitarian law center
Victimology Society of Serbia
IAN – International Aid Network
Reconstruction Women’s Fund
Belgrade Center for Security Policy
SOS for Women and Children Victims of Violence Vlasotince
Center for Women’s Rights Vrsac
Panonian Activist organisation – PAOR, Zrenjanin
Center for Girls Niš
Vranje Human Rights Committee
NGO Vranje Press
Roma Association “Osvit” Niš – SOS Hotline in Roma and Serbian Language
Voice of Difference
Cultural Centre DamaD
SOS Hotline for Women and Children Victims of Violence Beograd
Novi Sad Humanitarian centre
Roma Association ”Danica”, Pančevo
Roma Association Novi Bečej
Citizens’ Association “Ternipe“, Pirot
Women’s Association Peščanik
CHRIS Network of Human Rights Committees:
– Niš Human Rights Committee
– Negotin Human Rights Committee
– Valjevo Human Rights Committee
– Civic Forum Novi Pazar
– Bujanovac Human Rights Committee
– Vojvodina Human Rights Committee