This article is an integral part of the Coalition prEUgovor report on progress of Serbia in Chapters 23 and 24 for the period from November 2015 to April 2016.
The new candidate for the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality does not meet the nomination standards based on the Law on Prevention of Discrimination, having no grassroot or academic expertise in this field. The Coordination Body for Gender Equality changed its members, and from 50/50 members of both sexes, it now consists of only 20% of women.
At the 105th Sitting of the Committee on Constitutional and Legislative Issues held on 28 April 2015 at 4 pm, the Committee decided to submit to the National Assembly the Proposal of the new candidate for the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality. Although the Committee concluded that the candidate met the nomination standards based on the Law on Prevention of Discrimination, this cannot be confirmed because the candidate’s CV was not posted on the Parliament’s website. The process of nomination was neither public nor transparent, and there were no consultations with CSOs. The candidate, a member of a political party, who during the previous Government served as the State Secretary in the Ministry for Social Policy, has no grassroot or academic expertise in the field of discrimination.
The Coordination Body for Gender Equality of the Government of Serbia, which was set up on 30 October 2014 and consisted of two women ministers and two men (the Minister and Secretary General of the Government), changed its members in April 2015. Now it consists of five members, of whom only one is a woman minister. Thus, from the body that had 50/50 members of both sexes, Serbia’s Coordination Body for Gender Equality now has only 20% of women. The newly appointed member, advisor in the MoI, was appointed to run the Working Group on amendments to the existing Law on Equality of Sexes, which is inconsistent with the Third Draft of Action Plan for Chapter 23 where this authority is given to the Ministry of Social Policy (activity 220.127.116.11.). On 10 December 2014, the Ombudsperson presented in the National Assembly its Model Law on Gender Equality, asking for the adoption of the completely new law as the current law needs to be changed in more than 50% of articles. The National Strategy for Prevention and Combating Violence against Women expires in 2015 without the Action Plan for its implementation ever adopted. As the National Strategy for Improving the Position of Women has never been implemented either, it is very unusual that the Third Draft of Action Plan for Chapter 23 envisages work on new versions of these two strategies (activity 18.104.22.168.).
There has not been any improvement regarding the protection of women from all forms of gender-based violence. Femicide still remains the most worrying issue, especially after a woman was beaten to death due to the television show ‘’DNA’’; there is still absence of emergency protection orders, and after a year and a half from ratification the current legislative was not harmonised with the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.
Two years after the Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the situation in Serbia regarding the protection of women from violence remained the same. No progress was made in the view of the Committee’s concerns and recommendations:
An increasing number of women murdered by their husbands, ex-husbands or partners and women victims of other forms of violence…. According to data of the Network ‘’Women against Violence’’, 163 women in Serbia were killed by their partners or ex-partners or members of their family in the last five years (in 2010 - 26, in 2011 - 29, in 2012 - 32, in 2013 - 43 and in 2014 - 33). The trend continued in the first four months of 2015 when 15 women were killed, of whom 11 women were killed by their family members or their (ex)-partners. Two cases that show complete deterioration of Serbia’s society are as follows:
- the murder of a woman beaten to death by her partner, after they both participated in a TV show called ‘’DNA’’, in which the reporter instigated violence admitted by the perpetrator, while filming the abused woman and their children - the Network ‘’Women against Violence’’ asked from the relevant state authorities to stop broadcasting this show, but in vain;
- the murder of the previously stalked woman at her working place in downtown Belgrade, who had protection measures issued against the stalker, but with no response of the police when she reported breaches of the protection measures - the Network ‘’Women against Violence’’ repeated its request directed to the Ministry of Justice to prescribe stalking as a criminal act.
There is significant disparity between the number of police interventions, the number of criminal charges filed and the number of persons convicted. According to data from 14 municipalities and cities (gathered in 2014 by the Ombudsperson during the monitoring of implementation of the General and Special Protocols on Violence against Women), the epilogue of the largest number of reports on violence (71%) was a verbal warning by the police to the perpetrator of violence. Of total 3713 reports on violence against women in police directorates and stations in 14 municipalities and cities, police warnings to perpetrators were issued and represented the only police action in 2629 cases. The police pressed 395 criminal (10.6%) and 205 misdemeanour charges (5.5%).
Figure 1: Overview of reports on violence and police actions
The lack of emergency protection orders. As the working group of the MoI drafted the Law on Police without implementing the obligations accepted by ratification of the CoE Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, the Autonomous Women’s Centre sent its amendments in order for the police to receive a power to evict perpetrators from home for 14 days. The public discussion on this draft Law is still ongoing.
The lack of disaggregated data on all forms of violence against women. The Special Report of the Ombudsperson states that ‘’the systems of justice, internal affairs, social welfare and health care maintain independent and mutually incomparable records on violence against women. The records kept by the judicial system do not cover the relationship between the perpetrator and victim, nor do they contain specific information on personal characteristics of perpetrators and victims (disability, ethnicity, economic status, a member of the police or armed forces, etc.). The records of the health system also have no information about the relationship between the victim and the person who perpetrated the violence. The records of the social welfare system and the MoI contain certain (but not all) data on personal characteristics of perpetrators and victims and details of their relations. Records of the justice sector and the MoI are maintained according to the ‘nomenclature’ of criminal offenses and misdemeanours; as violent behaviour can be an important element of various criminal offenses or misdemeanours, it is not possible to determine on the basis of these records the number of cases in which these bodies have prosecuted acts with characteristics of violence against women.’’
Review and revision of the Criminal Code, the Family Code and other relevant laws with a view to effectively preventing all forms of violence against women and protecting victims. There have been no changes of laws which should guarantee effective prevention of all forms of violence against women and protection of victims. In the Third Draft of Action Plan for Chapter 23, the Ministry of Justice scheduled amendments to the Criminal Code for 2016 (activity 22.214.171.124.), although the Autonomous Women’s Centre commented that this deadline is not in accordance with the deadline defined by the CEDAW Committee to report on these urgent recommendations by July 2015. As for the Family Law, there are two parallel processes regarding its changes, which are currently ongoing without any communication between the relevant ministries. The Ministry of Justice is working on the Civil Code whose Book Four is called Family Relations, and the Ministry of Social Policy is working on amendments to the existing Family Law. None of this is mentioned in the draft Action Plans, either for Chapter 23 or Chapter 24.
 Available only in Serbian at: www.Ombudsperson.rs/index.php/lang-sr/component/content/article/3621.
www.gendernet.rs/files/dokumenta/Engleski/Reports/CEDEW_concluding_observations_2013_engl.pdf, received on 25 July 2013.
 Par. 22 (a) of the CEDAW Concluding Observations.
 Available only in Serbian at: www.zeneprotivnasilja.net/vesti/474-peticija-kaznimo-promotere-nasilja.
 Available only in Serbian at: www.zeneprotivnasilja.net/vesti/483-saopstenje-za-javnost-21-04-2015.
 Par. 22 (b) of the CEDAW Concluding Observations.
 Data from the Special Report of the Ombudsperson on Implementation of General and Special Protocols on VAW, pg. 26, presented also in Table 4 with an additional explanation, Annex 1 of the Report, available at:
 Par. 22 (d) of the CEDAW Concluding Observations.
 Available only in Serbian at: www.potpisujem.org/srb/1099/autonomni-zenski-centar-zahteva-uvodenje-hitnih-mera-zastite-i-nova-ovlascenja-za-policiju.
 Par. 22 (e) of the CEDAW Concluding Observations.
 Violence against women may be qualified not only as domestic violence but also as a criminal offence against life and limb, threatening a person’s safety, etc.; the misdemeanour of breach of public order and peace includes a wide range of types of unpermitted behaviour, including several forms of violence.
 Quote from pg. 28 of the Special Report of the Ombudsperson on Implementation of General and Special Protocols on VAW, available at:
 Par. 23 (a) of the CEDAW Concluding Observations.