Monday, November 18, 2019

Advocacy

Initial premise of the Autonomous Women's Center is that policies, in order to fight against violence against women, at the local and national level should be consistent with international standards and good practices in this field. In accordance with the strategic goals, that the Convention of the United Nations and the Council of Europe should be implemented well by the state and that in the process of joining the European Union we must respect the human rights of women, Autonomous Women's Center consistently monitors the implementation of and advocates for a comprehensive, coherent, relevant, specific, efficient and effective national policies against violence against women.

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Within the public discussion on the Draft Law on Rights of Veterans, Army Disabled Veterans and Civilian Disabled Persons of War and Members of Their Families, the Autonomous Women’s Center and Women in Black submitted comments to the competent Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Issues, requesting the recognition of survivors of sexual violence in war as civilian victims of war.

The definition of civilian victims of war given in the Draft Law excludes a wide circle of persons that do not have a physical disability of 50%, who are not citizens of the Republic of Serbia, who have not been injured “by the enemy”. One category of persons excluded, and for whom this Draft Law is discriminatory, are persons whose physical injury is less than 50%, as well as persons whose injuries are not of a physical nature, but psychological. In this sense, the Autonomous Women’s Center and Women in Black, as signatories of the comments, agree with comments submitted by the Fund for Humanitarian Law, that warn about the unconstitutional nature of regulations that differentiate between psychological and physical integrity and about the discriminatory nature of different categories of victims who the provisions do not include, including victims of sexual violence in war.

The Republic of Serbia is the only country in the region, which does not recognize in its laws the victims of sexual violence in war and has not secured any form of reparation. This is contrary to numerous international documents, including the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law, Resolution 1325 and recently adopted Resolution 2467. In addition to this, referring to the legal framework granting social benefits to a restricted number of war crimes victims, in the Serbia Progress Report 2018, it is explicitly stated: “The UN Human Rights Committee and the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe expressed concerns as to the discriminatory nature of this law. Sexual violence in conflict has not been adequately addressed and further efforts are required in this area”.

Detailed comments in Serbian can be viewed at this link.