Monday, August 26, 2019

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Media report that this morning in Novi Sad, M.J. (32) has been murdered by her husband G.J. (36), who has also murdered her mother N.P. (57) and her father B.P. (57), and that the police is searching for the suspect. Based on media reports, the murders were preceded two weeks ago by a report for domestic violence resulting in the urgent measure of a restraining order and bringing criminal charges for domestic violence [1]. It has also been reported (without a clear time reference) that the suspect had been reported for illegal weapon possession [2].

Why hasn’t the institutional response contributed to the prevention of these murders? Was the case assessed as bearing a high risk for a fatal consequence? If yes, why did responsible institutions fail to apply measures from other laws (for example apprehension of the perpetrator of violence), rather than only relying on measures from the Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence which should be used as a prevention measure in low risk cases? Did the police take into consideration that the perpetrator was reported for illegal weapon possession and was that weapon temporarily seized in accordance with the protocol? If a high risk from a fatal consequence was not assessed, why not? This case, like other similar ones, once again points to the issue of whether employees of responsible institutions are trained to appropriately assess risks and differentiate low and high risk levels?

The Autonomous Women’s Center has been pointing out, for years, the significance of appropriate risk assessment and indicators such as control and jealousy, the decision to leave or leaving one’s partner, weapon possession, which have been confirmed by research to significantly increase the risk of a fatal outcome for the woman. Even the protector of citizens, analyzing the response of responsible institutions to reports of domestic violence[3], has found failure to asses risk or that it had been inappropriate in some cases.  The Autonomous Women’s Center has on numerous occasions proposed to responsible ministries the formation of an expert working group, which would identify, based on an in-depth analysis of each case of femicide, errors in the response and formulate recommendations for actions of responsible institutions in order to prevent women being murdered in the future! Take action before the crime, not after!

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[1] 24.5.2019. www.mojnovisad.com, Trostruko ubistvo u kući na Telepu (accessed 24.5.2019.)

[2] 24.5.2019. www.blic.rs, Zet zbog ljubomore ubio celu porodicu u Novom Sadu (accessed 24.5.2019.)

[3] Recommendations of the Protector of Citizens 13-1-1657/18 i 13-1-3273/16. Available in Serbian at : https://www.ombudsman.rs/ (accessed 24.5.2019.)