|Presentation of the model strategy in Belgrade. Photo: Media Centre Belgrade.|
The aim of the model strategy prepared by Humanitarian Law Centre, HLC, is to encourage Serbia’s institutions to adopt an official state strategy for the prosecution of war crimes, the rights group said at a press conference on Thursday.
“The key problem in war crimes prosecution [in Serbia] is the small number of people charged – in 10 years only 175 have been charged, while only 68 have been convicted in final verdicts,” said Sandra Orlovic, the head of the HLC.
She said that Serbia’s War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office still has 800 unresolved cases on its books.
The main goal of the future official state strategy should be preventing impunity for war crimes committed during the 1990s conflicts, she added.
The HLC’s Model Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes Committed During and in Relation to the Armed Conflicts in the Former Yugoslavia, which is supposed to cover the period 2015-25, is based on the rights group’s report assessing Serbia’s progress in war crimes trials over the past decade, as well as consultations with the key players involved in war crimes prosecution in the country.
The model strategy also envisages the further promotion of regional cooperation and cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, protection of and support for witnesses and victims, as well as confronting the past by increasing the public visibility of war crimes trials.
“The vast majority of Serbia’s citizens don’t know a single war crimes case. It is very important that the trials are more visible in the public,” HLC’s Milica Kostic said.
Bruno Vekaric, Serbia’s deputy war crimes prosecutor, said that one of the main problems that the prosecution is facing is an inadequate number of staff as well as lack of funds for prosecutions and investigations.
Vekaric agreed however that a state strategy was necessary.
“Serbia’s Ministry of Justice has recently started working on the official strategy, and we expect this model strategy to be part of it,” he said.
Ivan Jovanovic, an expert in international humanitarian law, said that post-conflict societies such as Serbia should also have a broader strategy on transitional justice which would include reparations, remembrance and truth commissions.
Orlovic said the HLC’s model strategy would be sent to the Serbian Ministry of Justice on Thursday.