16 Days of Activism - Campaign 2016

The Women against Violence Network requests that the state implement all measures within its power to guarantee freedom, life and protection from all forms of violence to women!

Belgrade, November 25th 2016

The Women against Violence Network is worried by the fact that more then 200 women have been murdered by their partners or ex partners or family members in Serbia during the past six years. The situation is becoming alarming as can be seen from mass shooting cases that have happened in Serbia this year, in 2015 and in 2013. These shootings were motivated by hatred of women.

The Ombudsman reviewed 14 cases where women were murdered, and from newspaper articles he learned that in all these cases the victims had reported violence to authorities. In 12 of these cases he ascertained that omissions were made by institutions from various municipalities and towns, and that their work was inconsistent. He issued a systemic recommendations on this matter to relevant government ministries.

The omissions noticed by the Ombudsman, and also confirmed by women’s organizations in the Network, relate to the fact that laws and regulations aren’t being consistently implemented. The Government and relevant Ministries have adopted general and specific measures regarding cooperation of institutions, government bodies, and organizations in cases of violence against women within the family or in intimate partner relations, but they are not being implemented as prescribed. The general principle – that women’s security must be the top priority and that it’s the institutions’ job to watch over the security of women at all times – is unfortunately a principle that hasn’t been implemented by institutions.

Therefore, the Network of Women against Violence requests that the Ministry of Internal Affairs ensures that the list for risk assessment is adequately implemented by each officer responding to domestic violence calls. This list has been prescribed by the Special Protocol on police officers’ response to domestic violence calls.

We also request that the Ministry of Justice provide prosecutors a list for assessing security risks (exactly like the one supplied to police officers) because this will ensure that data is consistent and verifiable, and it will also improve communication between these two institutions whose work demands intense cooperation from the moment violence is reported and further on during the investigation.

We request that the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Issues expand its list of risk assessment used by custody experts and judges working in family dispute cases. This list expansion should encompass risks entailing other forms of violence – such as psychological violence, low intensity violence which may escalate, and violence perpetrated by abuse of custody rights.

The Network of Women against Violence believes that in each case the state must guarantee consistent implementation of other principles prescribed by the General Protocol, as well as the consistent implementation of all relevant laws. It shouldn’t be forgotten that three years ago Serbia ratified the European Council’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, and has therefore obligated itself to prevent violence from occurring, to investigate all reports of domestic violence and punish the perpetrators.

We – Serbian women’s organizations that have for more than 20 years been helping women leave violent relationships or to survive them – do not see that Serbia has held to account professionals in institutions who have not acted as prescribed and who have been charged with ensuring that women, and their children, are guaranteed the right to freedom, life and protection from all forms of violence perpetrated by men.

Aside from the protective measures already recommended, professionals working in institutions should primarily focus on what the women in question need and to believe them.