Serbia made progress in arresting suspects indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (Tribunal) and in prosecuting war crimes in domestic courts. Discrimination against minority communities and impunity for inter-ethnic violence continued in both Serbia and Kosovo. The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) failed to address impunity for human rights violations by the international community and for war crimes in Kosovo, including enforced disappearances and abductions. Few refugees voluntarily returned to Kosovo.
Though the European Union has played an important role in bringing justice to thousands of victims of the wars in the former Yugoslavia, observers warn that the bloc is falling short in terms of fostering wider reconciliation and stability in the region.
The EU strategy of conditioning the progress of ex-Yugoslav countries towards joining the union on their cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, has been a primary tool in making sure the perpetrators of war crimes face trial and victims see justice. This so-called “Hague conditionality” policy has been key to securing the arrest of suspects, as well as the handover of documentary evidence needed to aid prosecutions at the court, at which a total of 161 individuals suspected of war crimes have been charged and 60 convicted.
Within the framework of a regional project “Monitoring the Implementation of the Access to Public Information Acts in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia by Public authorities, by Means of Carrying out a Survey and Sending Inquiries for Access to Information”, jointly implemented by the Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Access to Information Center Sarajevo, and YUCOM in early may 2005, an analysis of the implementation of respective freedom to public information acts in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia was carried out.
During May 2005 the partner organizations adjusted a common monitoring methodology and adapted it to all three countries’ specifics. This methodology was based on the methodology the Open Society Justice Initiative applied in a similar survey carried out 2003 in five countries (Armenia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Peru and South Africa).
On October 26, 2006 (to be delivered to the accused at February 15, 2007), the Supreme Court of Serbia, in a chamber that resided judges Dragiša Djordjević, president, and Slobodan Rašić, Gligorije Spasojević, PhD, Sretko Janković, MA, and Goran Čavlin, members, have decided to OVER-RULE AS INCONSEQUENTIAL the demand for the protection of the legality (due process of law), of the republican public prosecutor Jovan Krstić, who have requested annulation or revision of the decision KJ.36/02 of Municipality Court in Kikinda from May 14, 2002, and decision kž 409/02, of the same court, from November 20, 2002, and thus not to reveal Željko Bodrožić from the accusation of committing a crime of defamation and libel, described in Article 93/2 of the Serbian Criminal Code, against private prosecutor Dmitar Šegrt.
On September 28. 2005 YUCOM organized round table in Belgrade on Free Access to Information as part of a regional project “Campaigning for Freedom of Information and Free Access to the Official Documents as the Best Tool for Combating Corruption”. YUCOMs partners from the region Croatian Helsinki Committee (HHO) and Center for Free Access to Information Sarajevo (CSPI) simultaneously organized round tables in Sarajevo and Zagreb, promoting reports for Croatia and Bosnia and Hercegovina.
The date chosen for organizing this event is Right to Know Day, simultaneously celebrated in large number of countries, promoting citizens rights to FOIA. Speakers in Belgrade were Information Officer in Republic of Serbia, head of Transparency Serbia, Open Society Institute Belgrade, Belgrade Center for Human Rights and YUCOM.
Conference titled: Mutual relation of public administration and NGOs toward assessing the right to free access to information was organized by YUCOM at January 31, 2006, in Media Center in Belgrade, as a part of the program financed by Democracy Commission of the Public Affairs Section of the US Embassy in Belgrade. The date for the conference coincided with the official deadline for production and submission of the reports on implementation of the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Interest (FOIA Law) of state organs to republican Information Officer, Mr. Rodoljub Šabić. Overview of the current situation in implementation of FOIA Law, which was adopted at the end of 2004, should be a key indicator for planning of future activities of the NGO sector in the area.
Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR), supported by the Swedish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights (SHC), organized on April 26th and 27th a training course in Belgrade entitled “Mechanisms for Human Rights Advocacy and Protection”. Participants were activists from 15 non-governmental organizations from Serbia: Center for Democratic Initiative from Jagodina, National Parliament from Leskovac, Bulgarian Minority Cultural-Informational Center from Dimitrovgrad, Human Rights Council from Negotin, Distrikt 023 from Kikinda, Toplice Initiative from Prokuplje, Human Rights Council from Niš, Center for Dialogue, Justice, Solidarity and Regionalism from Vršac, Libergraf from Užice, Srem Youth Initiative from Sremska Mitrovica, Human Rights Council from Vranje, Urban In from Novi Pazar, Association “95” from Bačka Topola, Civic Action from Pančevo, and Vlah Cultural-Informational Center from Bor.