azcBelgrade, January 24, 2023 The Autonomous Women's Center submitted to the Constitutional Court an initiative for the assessment of constitutionality and compliance with confirmed international agreements, Art. 58 and Art. 77 of the Law on Gender Equality, adopted in 2021.

Chapter six of the Law on Gender Equality ("Prevention and suppression of gender-based violence") provides for specialized support services for victims of violence. In accordance with the provisions of contested Art. 58 of this Law, financial means for specialized services to support victims of gender-based violence from Art. 55 of the Law are obtained from the budget of the Republic, the autonomous province and the budget of local self-government units, with the provision that the services referred to in Article 1, point 2) and point 4), i.e. safe accommodation for women victims of violence and their children in safe houses and shelters, as well as providing free support to victims of sexual violence, are obtained from the budget of local self-government units, and these provisions begin to be applied from January 1, 2024.

Within the same chapter of the Law, programs for persons who have committed violence are foreseen, and the financial means for these programs are obtained from the budget of the Republic of Serbia, and their implementation begins on January 1, 2022.

At the same time, Art. 2 of the Law ("Protection of Acquired Rights") stipulates that the provisions of this Law cannot be interpreted or applied in a way that limits or diminishes the achieved level of human rights in the field of gender equality that derives from the Constitution, confirmed international treaties, generally accepted principles of international law, laws, as well as the legislation of the European Union on gender equality.

AWC is of the opinion that the provisions of Art. 58 and Art. 77 of the Law are in contradiction with the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, namely Art. 3, art. 18, art. 20, art. 21, art. 36, Art. 68 and Art. 69, as well as being in contradiction with already confirmed international treaties, primarily with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, and also the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms discrimination against women. The established various sources of funding and different deadlines for the entry into force of legal provisions for programs and services provided to perpetrators of violence, i.e. victims of violence, provide convenience in favor of one group of persons - perpetrators of violence as persons who violate the law, does not satisfy the condition of constitutionality from the aspect of constitutional guarantee of the rule of law, legal equality and prohibition of discrimination and other mentioned provisions of the Constitution, therefore AWC proposes that the Constitutional Court initiate a procedure for evaluating the constitutionality of the mentioned articles.

You can read the AWC initiative submitted to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Serbia HERE.