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INFO   :::  Human Rights > Legal Aid > Legal Assistance Report (1 Oct 2001-31 Dec 2001)


Legal Assistance Report
(1 Oct 2001-31 Dec 2001)

08/17/2002, Source: Legal Assistance Report (1 Oct - 31 Dec 2001), Author: HCHRS


It was only when Milosevic stepped down from power that it became possible to perceive the extent of the devastation of the Serbian society and institutions. More than a year after the changes took place, there is no major progress in any sphere. The process of transition is in its inception and is coupled with enormous difficulties. Since legal nihilism reigned for over a decade, numerous once neglected or marginalized problems are now surfacing. The drastic violation of the rights of various minority groups (homosexual groups, disabled persons, members of small religious communities) and trafficking in women and children are only some of the mentioned problems and phenomena characterizing the present-day situation in Serbia. Furthermore, also appearing are problems related to the violation of property rights, copyrights and other similar rights.

Trade unions in Serbia are trying to develop partnership relations with the authorities, as opposed to the subservient attitude that existed until recently and which was burdened by idolatry and corruption.

The dissatisfaction of the citizens of Serbia primarily results from the fact that their standard of living has not improved, that people from the former regime have not adequately answered for their acts, that the law on lustration has still not been drafted, nor have there been any indications that some of the possible forms of lustration would be applied in Serbia.

Reforms in various fields, especially in the judiciary, are encountering major obstruction, and the authorities in Serbia still do not seem to be ready to take serious action in this respect.

Although a set of laws regulating the judicial sphere has been passed, this is insufficient to establish a fair and just judicial system. The question that arises is whether the adopted laws have adequately resolved the accumulated problems in the judiciary, in view of the fact that these laws were imposed by one party in the DOS (Democratic Opposition of Serbia) coalition. The manner in which the laws were passed resembled the practice from Milosevic's period. The parliament adopted the bills automatically, without any discussion. There are indications that additions and amendments have already been prepared, especially for the law on the public prosecutor's office. The republican public attorney was elected in December 2001.

The consequences of the corruption imbued in practically all the segments of Serbian society are very hard to eliminate. There have been no personnel changes or serious systemic improvements in Serbia's interior. The new authorities are not very active in persecuting war profiteers and people who illegally acquired wealth in a very short period of time. The FRY authorities cooperate with the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia only when pressured to do so.

The problems seem even more insolvable when one knows that there is a lack of accord regarding crucial issues within the victorious coalition. A good example are the recent elections in Kosovo (November 17) when the leaders of the largest DOS parties kept dwelling for days on whether to advise the Serbs to participate in the elections or to boycott them. However, the international community's pressure made a crucial impact on the voters to opt for participating in the elections.

The tense relations within DOS and the increasingly pronounced conflict between Djindjic and Kostunica have had a negative effect on the implementation of reforms. The law on denationalization has still not been passed, although it is of interest to many citizens. The republican government has prepared the Bill on NGOs which shows a tendency towards placing the non-governmental sector under state control.

The status of the FRY as a state is uncertain since the issues of the status of Kosovo and the autonomy of Vojvodina are also burdening political life in Serbia.

In the previous period, several hundred persons addressed the Helsinki Committee's office for legal assistance. Assistance was requested by citizens of the FRY, refugees, but a large number of foreigners this time as well. Several hundred pieces of legal advice were provided. Full protection was received by 61 persons. According to their structure, the cases can be classified into several categories;

a) Citizens of the republic of Serbia: cases related to the work of courts (5), housing issues (5), property (4), national discrimination (5), prisons (4), copyrights (4), social welfare (4), health care (3), army, education, labor law, pensions, missing persons, war crimes, corruption, harassment, asylum...

b) Refugees: property, military pensions, social welfare, buy-up of apartments, eviction...

c) Foreigners: expert opinion (3), mobilization, documents, petitions, missing persons, captured persons, police harassment...

d) Legal assistance within the >I Want to Go Home

e) Lawyer's assistance: Civil lawsuits for compensation of damage against the Republic of Serbia-the Interior Ministry /MUP/ (lawsuits filed by refugees). Currently, 33 first-instance proceedings are being conducted before the First Municipal Court in Belgrade. Out of this number, verdicts of the first instance have been passed in seven cases. Received has been a total of 19 first-instance verdicts, which have been appealed before a higher court, mostly because of the amount of the compensation set in the first-instance ruling. Only one verdict was not appealed as the request was granted in its entirety. In other cases, another seven appeals have been filed against the set amount of the compensation. A total of 11 verdicts based on rulings of the first instance and 4 verdicts based on rulings of the second-instance were received. A total of 15 appeals were filed and one revision was requested.

Other procedures before regular courts:

2) Second Municipal Court in Belgrade, Štekovic A. -State of FRY - compensation for damage

3) First Municipal Court in Belgrade- Virovkic and others - Federal Foreign Ministry - labor dispute, completed in December 2001.

4) First Municipal Court in Belgrade - Jelic R. -GSP Belgrade- labor dispute in progress.

5) Third Municipal Court in Belgrade - Sabri Asani -Hidrotehnika- labor dispute in progress.

6) Municipal Court in Pancevo- criminal proceedings- Kurtovic Veselko versus two employees of OUP Pancevo, in progress

7) First Municipal Court in Belgrade, Spahija Isljam, housing dispute, hearing reopened

8) Fourth Municipal Court in Belgrade - Pavle Cajka - based on charges filed by the state of FRY, eviction from apartment.

9) First Municipal Court in Belgrade Cr. no. 515/2001. - Dimitrijevic Nina charged with the criminal act of fraud.

10) Second Municipal Court in Belgrade Cr. no. 1493/97. The same person charged with the same act.

11) Fund for the social insurance of military insurance beneficiaries Ad.-1 no. 2643-3/01, Gradimir Glogovac for the recognition of the right to a pension. Military pensioner living in Croatia.

12) Fourth Municipal Court in Belgrade I no. 118/2000. Biljali Muharem for the eviction of illegal occupants, action fully successful. Party moved into the apartment.

13) First Municipal Court in Belgrade, case 1. no. 95/97, plaintiff Biljali Muharem, labor dispute against the Chamber of Commerce, for annulling the decision on the termination of employment.

14) Fifth Municipal Court in Belgrade, action for the establishment of the facts, joint construction.

15) Municipal Court in Stara Pazova case no. 553/93, action against illegal acquisition of wealth, plaintiff Grujovic Mladen. The same party also filed a lawsuit for eviction. The same party - lawsuit for physical division. In this case it is necessary to carry out a large number of actions which jointly lead to the resolution of this complex problem.

16) Third Municipal Court in Belgrade, case1 no. 737/01. The plaintiffs are 22 employees of Krka in Belgrade, Novi Sad and Niš. Defendant Krka of Novo Mesto, the Republic of Slovenia. Lawsuit for paying out severance payments to employees. It is necessary to acquire knowledge about the contents of the Agreement on the succession of the former SFRY.

17) Municipal assembly of Jagodina, no. 360/2000-04. Procedure of the administrative execution of the eviction of illegal occupants, 26 families with 117 members, from an unfinished building of the solidarity fund in Jagodina. Request for postponing the execution submitted.

18) Municipal Court in Belgrade Cr. no. 37/97, defendant Trninic Vid for repeating the criminal procedure through the joining of penalties.

19) Supreme Military Court in Belgrade 668/01, plaintiff Dragoslav Petrovic suing the state of FRY- higher housing commission. Administrative dispute for annulling the decision of the higher housing commission. The ruling of the Supreme Military Court is being awaited.

20) First Municipal Court in Belgrade case no. 5612/97, plaintiff Cedomir Džido, defendant insurance company "Dunav", dispute for compensation of damage.

21) Secretariat for municipal construction affairs of the city of Belgrade, Željko Borjan, housing dispute.

22) Municipal Court in Bor, case no. 249/2000, plaintiff and defendant Pajic for the division of joint property. Action for the protection of legality initiated.

f) New republican and federal regulations adopted (in the period between October 1 and December 31, 2001)

The Serbian Assembly worked somewhat more efficiently, so that a number of important laws were passed. As regards the Federal Parliament, its activities are somewhat slower and less frequent.


Republican regulations

Based on article 26 of the Law on the Government of the Republic of Serbia (RS), the RS Government passed:

1) The decision to establish an anti-corruption council

The Council is an expert and advisory body of the RS Government. The Council has the obligation to propose measures and activities for fighting corruption, to monitor the implementation of decisions, forward initiatives for the adoption of regulations, programs and other acts and measures in this sphere. The Council has 15 members, they are appointed by the Government. Among them, the Government chooses the chairman who runs this body. The Government chooses the Council members from among honorable people who are both experts and scholars.

At the second session of the second regular sitting, on October 24, 2001, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia passed:

2) The Law on Amendments to the Law on Carrying out a Census of the Population, Households and Apartments in 2001 in RS.

The date of the census has been moved, in line with the law, to March 31, 2002.

At the same sitting, on November 5, 2001, the National Assembly of RS adopted:

3) The Law on the Regulation of Courts, Law on Judges, this law introduces the Grand Personnel Council of the Supreme Court of Serbia. This Council takes decisions concerning the position of judges, which is regulated by the law. Its tenure is two years, while the Council chairman cannot be the president of the Supreme Court of Serbia at the same time.

The Law on the High Judicial Council, establishing the >Judicial Council<, as a new body. The High Council has five permanent members and eight members by invitation. It is elected for a five-year period.

The Law on the Public Prosecutor's Office,

The Law on the Seats and Territorial Jurisdiction of Courts and Public Prosecutor's Offices,

At issue here is a set of laws pertaining to the judiciary which were adopted together. It is not certain that the establishment of two new bodies will achieve the desired goal - an efficient, fair and just judiciary.

At the second session of the second regular sitting on November 19, 2001, the National Assembly of the RS adopted:

4) The Law on the Agency for the Development of Small and Medium-Sized Companies. The agency provides expert assistance to entrepreneurs, offers consulting services and performs managerial jobs...

At the same session, on November 21, 2001, adopted was:

5) The Law on Chambers of Commerce, the reason for passing regulations that prolong the existence of organizations which have long since become obsolete is unclear here, with this resembling continuity with the old regime. There is no need for creating such a large administration, one whose functions are of an advisory and presentational nature.

A large number of judges of all courts, as well as magistrates were relieved of their duties at this National Assembly session.

At its second session of the second regular sitting, on December 12, 2001, the RS Assembly passed:

5) The Labor Law, the law gave rise to major polemics and political turmoil. Trade unions had objections to several of its provisions. Apart from the trade union, one of the member parties of DOS was also critical of it. The largest number of the objections concerned the duration of maternity leave and the large freedom of the employer in sacking employees.

At the second session of the second regular sitting, on December 17, 2001, the RS Assembly adopted:

6) Decisions on the dismissal of the president of the constitutional court of RS, the president of the Fifth Municipal Court in Belgrade, as well as 61 judges of general jurisdiction and of business courts, and the same decision also dismissed 16 public prosecutors.

At the third session of the second regular sitting the RS Assembly passed several regulations pertaining to the sphere of finances:

7) The Law on Amendments and Additions to the Law on the Sales Tax, the amendments concern the abolition of the tax on certain food products and goods used by a large number of citizens,

8) Law on Amendments and Additions to the Law on Excises

At the third session of the second regular sitting, on December 27, 2001, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia passed:

9) The Decision on the termination of the judicial duties of judges of courts of general jurisdiction, the reasons for the termination of these duties are various. At issue is mostly retirement - 17of them, and personal request - 10,

At the same session, adopted was;

10) The Law on the RS Budget for 2020, larger resistance was expected in the adoption of this document, in view of the disputes present within the coalition.


Federal regulations

One gains the impression that, apart from the Decree on the appointment of ambassadors all over the world, the federal administration is resolving very few issues. Apart from the foreign ministry, there is only the defense ministry left.

At the session of the Federal Parliament's Chamber of Citizens on October 25, 2001, adopted was;

11) The Law on Amendments and Additions to the FRY Penal Code, the main changes were made in setting the penalty that appears as an alternative to the death penalty, which has been abolished. The new highest penalty that can be meted out for the most serious acts is 40 years of imprisonment. This penalty cannot be meted out to a person younger than 21.

At the session of the Chamber of Citizens on November 22, 2001, and at the session of the Chamber of Republic on October 25, 2001 adopted was:

12) The Law on Amendments to the Law on Economic Offenses, all the changes concern the amount of the fine to be paid by persons who commit economic offenses. The same is true of the Law on Amendments to the Law on Misdemeanors in Violation of Federal Regulations

At the session of both Chambers on December 20, 2001, adopted was;

10) The Law on Amendments to the Law on the Federal Budget for 2001.

As regards the FRY's international activity, it can be said to be quite poor, at least in regard to international agreements and their ratification in Parliament.

At separate sessions of both Chambers (5.11 and 25.10, 2001.) passed were:

13) The Law on the Ratification of the Agreement between the Federal Government of the FRY and the Government of the Republic of Croatia on the mutual stimulation and protection of investments.

14) The Law on the Ratification of the Framework Agreement on the Institutional Basis for the Establishment of International Systems for Oil and Gas Transport.

15) The Law on the Ratification of the European Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, with the additional protocol.

16) The Law on the ratification of the European Convention on Extradition, with the additional protocol.

17) The Law on the Ratification of the European Convention on the Transfer of Proceedings in Criminal Matters.

18) The Law on the Ratification of the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism

19) The Law on the Ratification of the Agreement between the FRY and the Republic of Hungary on avoiding double taxation for income and property taxes.

At a session of both Chambers of the Federal Parliament on December 20, 2001, adopted were:

20) The Law on the Ratification of the Agreement on a Loan between the FRY and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development

21) Correction of the Law on the Ratification of the Agreement between the Federal Government of the FRY and the Government of the Republic of Croatia on the Mutual Stimulation and Protection of Investments.

At sessions of both Chambers of the Federal Parliament, on December 20 and 26, 2001, passed were;

19) The Law on the Criminal Procedure

At a session of both Chambers, held on December 26, 2001, passed were:

22) The Law on Amendments and Additions to the Law on the Bases for Pension and Disability Insurance,

23) Law on Amendments to the Law on Air Transport,

24) Law on Amendment to the Law on the Value-Added Tax

25) Law on Amendments to the Law on Standardization

26) Law on the Termination of the Validity of the Law on the Bases for the Change of Ownership of Social Capital

27) Law on Amendments and Additions to the Law on Federal Administrative Taxes

28) Law on Amendments and Additions to the Law on Accounting

29) Law on Amendments and Additions to the Law on the Travel Documents of Yugoslav Citizens

30) Law on Amendments to the Law on Payment Operations

One can notice the trend of amending already existing laws.



The citizens of Serbia are unprepared for transition due to the country's devastation, long years of inactivity and an orientation towards the gray economy. Serbia does not have an efficient economy. For every beginning and every reconstruction it is necessary to have funds, which do not exist. Last year, Serbia lived off donations, since it still lacks a legal framework for serious investments. Resistance to reforms and the joining of European integrations is large. This resistance is initiated by remnants of the former regime, which have still not lost their influence, and the increasingly aggressive right-wing that continues, quite anachronously, to offer Serbianism instead of Europe, so that it is difficult to establish who is actually holding the main levers of power in Serbia. It is sufficient to mention the case of the "red berets", whose role in wartime operations in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo is well known, then the relations in the Yugoslav Army (VJ), the arrest of persons indicted for war crimes and their transfer to The Hague.

Lying ahead of the Republic of Serbia is a constitutional reform, the determination of the state borders and the form of rule. Noticeable are the attempts by certain factions in DOS to introduce a monarchy without a public debate. Defeated forces are organizing strikes under the slogan "factories to the workers". The radicalization of society with clear anti-Western undertones is on the rise.

The federal justice minister has carried out a "cleaning" in the judiciary without clearly set criteria. Without an independent and professional court and prosecutor's office, without a police that has rid itself of the influence of crime, it is difficult to expect an efficient role of the judiciary in the process of transition.

a) Work of courts

Corruption, abuse of office, inefficiency and the self-will of certain judges have had a serious effect on the judicial system in Serbia. The parties' criticism concerns the course of the proceedings (both criminal and civil), the procedure of the presentation of evidence, the work of courts and the rulings of courts of all instances.

Mira Denic, proxy for her mother Zorica Denic, from Pirot, has initiated action before the Municipal Court in Pirot with a lawsuit against the illegal acquisition of wealth. The proceedings were instituted in 1998, but the case was put on hold in April 2000. The attorney in the case was receiving forged records, for which evidence was presented. The texts of one of the records were typed on two different typewriters. An empty space was left in the records, where issues that had not been discussed in court were entered. The signatures of the plaintiff's proxy on the records were forged. All the suspicions were corroborated by evidence and the findings of an expert witness, a graphologist. This is an obvious case of a serious forgery and the abuse of law and courts. Paradoxical is the fact that this dispute is over an amount of around 900 DM. The responsible prosecutor refused to conduct an investigation based on the criminal charges against the persons who took part in the unlawful activities in the mentioned civil lawsuit, while the judge conducting the proceedings has still not been removed from the judiciary.

The fact that relations between the former Yugoslav republics have not been regulated in a sufficiently clear and precise manner has also seriously affected the proceedings being conducted before courts when the parties in the dispute are physical persons or legal entities belonging to different states, former republics of the SFRY. The crucial problem in this sense is to determine the responsible courts, the relevant law, as well as the recognition of foreign court rulings.

A group of 22 employees of the former branch office of "Krka" of Novo Mesto is claiming from its employer, with a ten-year delay, severance payments based on the termination of employment. Apart from this, it has not been determined who the successor of this organization's property will be or in which procedure this issue will be resolved. It is not known to date how the Agreement on the succession of the former SFRY has resolved the issue of the assets of economic entities. For the purpose of collecting severance payments, a lawsuit has been filed before the Third Municipal Court in Belgrade, as the court having both territorial jurisdiction and in rem jurisdiction. Expected in the upcoming period is the court's response, in the sense of accepting jurisdiction and the will competently to rule in these proceedings. Even if the Third Court in Belgrade accepts jurisdiction and passes a valid verdict, the question is where and how such a court ruling will be executed. It would be necessary to request a decision on the verdict to be recognized before the responsible court in Slovenia.

These and similar cases are yet to be discussed, for which the states need to adopt, in time, inter-state agreements that will regulate this sphere in a principled manner.

b) Discrimination

Discrimination against minority groups in Serbia has also been demonstrated through the work of judicial bodies. Those citizens of Serbia who have been discriminated against in court procedures because of the fact that they belong to some of the minority groups, hope that, after the changes that took place in Serbia, the court rulings against them could be reexamined and reversed in their favor. However, certain judges still pass verdicts that discriminate against people belonging to minorities.

Biljali Muharem from Belgrade lost almost simultaneously, in 1990-1991, his job and apartment. He was employed with the Yugoslav Chamber of Commerce. There is reason to suspect that the basic human rights of Biljalji Muharem were seriously violated because he is an Albanian. After ten years of a persistent struggle, at the end of 2001 Muharem managed to move into his apartment and to evict the illegal occupant. The labor dispute is still in progress and is unlikely to be completed soon.

c) Copyrights

Ten years of anarchy, gray economy and lawlessness did serious harm to this sensitive branch of law. In the previous system, it was impossible to protect copyrights. Even certain foreign media took advantage of this situation and failed to fulfill their obligations towards domestic authors.

Ivan Galebovic, journalist from Belgrade, and the state-owned company Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) are suing CNN of the US.

Under a special contract, the journalist made an exclusive interview with the FRY president-elect on October 5, 2000. The interview was done for RTS. The journalist was not employed with the state-run television. This interview was also taken over and broadcast by the CNN company without permission, and without any compensation being paid. The journalist and RTS concluded a contract on selling the right to a single broadcasting, while the author-journalist is to retain all the further rights. The defendant is a commercial television, which sells its programs through cable TV in over half a million households. Under article 27 of the Law on Copyrights and Similar Rights, the author has the exclusive right to ban or allow the broadcasting of his work by a second party.

This sphere is defined by a law that is imprecise and which does not contain a clear formulation of what a copyright work is and what it is not. The legal imprecision offers large possibilities for arbitrariness and self-will.

Milan Dimitric designed the logotype and designated the position of advertisements on vehicles of the Belgrade city transport company. He received no fee for this work, and the court of the first instance and the Supreme Court of Serbia dismissed his lawsuit with the explanation that Milan's work does not have attributes of a copyright work. In their rulings, the courts paid no heed to the decision of the copyright agency which registered and protected this work. Because of such court rulings, the author has suffered damage worth 45,000 dinars, due to the non-payment of the fee for his work. The Supreme Court of Serbia passed its verdict in July 2001.

It is obvious that there are still no major experts in this young field, and that there is also no will seriously to tackle this issue. Until this is done, authors will sporadically fight for their rights, with changeable success.

d) Corruption, work of state bodies

A branched-out network of corruptionists has been created. There was no timely action at least to restrict the self-will of powerful people, if not to prevent them entirely. Vestiges of the past, the unlawful ones, will accompany for a long time even the most sensitive spheres such are health care and the schooling system...

At the reputable Military Medical Academy (VMA) in Belgrade patients are kept against their will if, when due to leave, they are unable to pay the entire amount for a certain treatment. Patients are kept at the clinic by being tied to the bed and are actually unlawfully deprived of their liberty. This unprofessional and above all inhumane conduct by people of the medical profession is justified by the claims that it is later impossible to collect the debts. This must be why they keep people in "debtor slavery". This institution is actually a heritage of the times when the VJ had special treatment and special medical care. Its entrances and exists are guarded by soldiers, and one cannot leave it without special approval. It was obviously up to the prosecutor's office to make a move, but it did not have the strength to institute proceedings against those responsible at this institution, fascinated by its size and importance.

The case of a patient who was not allowed to leave after a kidney operation attests to the fact that most of the institutions in Serbia need urgent restructuring and the creation of an atmosphere for normal work. These issues would have to be dealt with by the Health Ministry, but by other state bodies as well.

The illegal construction of apartments and houses is slowly being halted, but the previously done damage is measured by large figures. Facilities had been built without the permits of responsible administrative bodies, but with their tacit consent. Apart from inspection bodies, bodies of the Interior Ministry (MUP), but the local mafia as well, had to be involved in the game. Spaces have been usurped, and the owners of buildings to which additional floors have been added have been totally stripped of their rights. This sphere started being regulated, but things are proceeding slowly in view of the magnitude and importance of the problem.

N.B. from Belgrade remodeled a loft in an absolutely legal manner, with all the necessary permits, but this loft is now being torn down under the instructions of certain powerful people and some prophets and miracle-workers close to the police. It is quite unbelievable that the authorities have annulled a valid permit for carrying out construction works and are tearing down a facility with the help of certain para-state detachments. The court has offered this person protection, but informal centers of power are still not allowing those who had built this construction to use it.

Organized crime still has the power to build and destroy. An attempt was made to adopt regulations stipulating criminal proceedings and the penalizing of people who carry out illegal construction work.

In the era of the reestablishment of the inviolability of private property certain bodies are abusing legal norms in order to get hold of real estate belonging to others. A law on denationalization, which would have to deal with the restitution of property illegally confiscated in the previous period, has still not been passed, while confiscation continues on other grounds.

In Trstenik, the municipal authorities took the decision to expropriate the house and house lot of their fellow citizen who had private ownership over this facility. The expropriated house was torn down in order for new apartment buildings to be constructed on the spot. The freed land was not used for the intended purpose, but rather the private house of another person was illegally built on it. At the municipality they say this is a temporary facility. The requests of the damaged party for the decision on expropriation to be annulled have been left without an adequate response, since the value of the expropriated real estate has been paid out to her.

The owner did not oppose the tearing down of the house, as she understood that one cannot oppose or resist expropriation, if this is for general well-being. The problem here is that someone wanted this lot for himself and used a legal form to obtain it.

g) Labor relations and trade unions

The adoption of the new Labor Law marked the development of different relations than before. The new law established norms that are in harmony with European norms and rules, in regard to both employment and the termination of employment. There are no more "life-long" jobs, or privileges based on poorly established social relations. Trade union activity must adapt to the new Law regulating the sphere of labor law.

Z. P. from Zemun is suing the administrative board the Patriarchate of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Belgrade. Contested is being the decision on the termination of employment passed through unlawful procedure and in an unlawful manner. The plaintiff was employed in 1990 in a manner envisaged by the Constitution of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The defendants claim that employment was not established on the basis of valid principles in the first place. However, the culmination of this above all sad event is that certain bodies forged the proposal for the termination of employment by consent, which the party never wrote, nor did he ever request termination of employment. One hearing has already been held, and it was requested that the litigation claim be further specified, which was done.

The increase in the number of the employed and the reduced needs for new employees gave rise to the abuse of so-called temporary employment. This status has made it possible to obtain cheap and blackmailed labor.

Tatijana Jevtic, an architect, after being unemployed for ten years, found employment as a professor at the secondary vocational school. There she substituted for employees absent for various reasons. She did her job conscientiously and without any objections. On March 12, 2001, a new acting principle took up office. That is when the above-named started being harassed, the goal of which was for her to leave and for a person to whom the principal had obviously promised employment to come. At the beginning of the new school year, the need once again arose for the substitution of absent employees, but the principal did not want her because she was a woman, while he, as he said, needed a man for the job. It is not known how this obvious discrimination against sexes was explained.

In a changed working atmosphere and in view of the attempts to transform the entire society, trade unions are acting anachronously and in an unprepared manner. With rare exceptions, they are siding with political options and trying to assume positions that do not belong to trade unions. They most often manipulate distressed employees. They rarely uphold positions which provide for the protection of work from inactivity, rights from abuse.

They also wish to take over part of the management of companies and so on. It is necessary for them to find a new position for themselves and to accept the new relations.

The independent trade union of the BFC cement factory in Beocin is an organization attempting to carry out the privatization of the Beocin cement works in line with the law and the factory's interests. The resistance of politicians is great, with coercive methods and bans also being resorted to, when necessary. The present managerial structure, according to these politicians' opinion, is obstructing transformation and trying to impose certain models of its own.

The factory has, nevertheless, been privatized, which seems to be the most favorable solution for its survival.

h) Welfare considerations

The issue of social programs and bringing the citizens out of long-lasting poverty will be topical for a long time to come. Pensioners receive pensions that are below the existential minimum. Old people's homes offer a sad picture. The social security of the younger generation is also at a low level. With the new processes in the labor sphere, the number of the unemployed, even if only formally, is rapidly growing, so that the "army" of the socially unsecured is constantly on the rise.

Mira Stojkovic from Bujanovac, has been trying since 1996, on behalf of her under-age children, to obtain, from the authorized Italian bodies, the pension of their late father. The Pension Fund in the FRY has taken all the actions it was authorized to take for the purpose of realizing the right to a family pension. To this day, there has been no adequate response from Italy. It is obvious that everyone took advantage of the sanctions in which it was easy to avoid obligations.

Now when Serbia is trying to join international trends, it would be good to resubmit the request, which the party has been advised to do.

The oldest citizens are faced with a different type of problem. They lack more humane conditions for spending their last days in a dignified manner. Small pensions are used for paying old people's homes which are in poor condition and where, due to the general poverty, the hardships of old age become even more visible.

Josip Nikolajevic from Mladenovac lives at a Pensioners' Home. The facility in which he lives is unable to provide him with adequate food for his numerous illnesses.

This corresponds to the picture of a general lack of care for the old, helpless, sick and deprived.

People with employment who would have to fend for themselves find themselves in social situations that are unimaginable in the normal world.

Jevrosimska Trailovic from Majdanpek, cannot collect a small social allowance for meals at work. This right is stipulated by the Law on Labor Relations and the General Collective Agreement. The amount of money envisaged by these regulations is 25% of the average monthly salary. Since this allowance was not paid out to her for longer periods of time she was compelled to address the court and has to wait for the completion of long proceedings which will establish her right to an allowance and the employer's obligation to pay it out.



Precisely when it seems that most of the problems of refugees have been resolved, new ones appear, showing that politicians, and all of us together, will be faced with this issue for a very long time to come. The reasons for this are numerous. The country of immigration, i.e. Serbia is not showing great interest in this segment of the population, except when it can be used for scoring small political points, while the states from which these people have fled also have no interest in them, except to the extent to which the international community compels them.

And refugees are already somewhat lost. A smaller number of them have found a way to manage in the country of immigration, or after returning home. The rest, a larger part of them, are still wandering around and do not know what to do with themselves and their families. Here they come in handy to young entrepreneurs as cheap labor and servants. The three states have done very little in regard to mutual relations. A number of international agreements have been concluded, and dual citizenship has been allowed. Open still remain the major questions of facing the past, responsibility for crimes, taking possession of one's property, regulating pensions and the normalization of life. A long road lies ahead, but it must be concluded that the journey has begun and has already produced certain results.

On December 31, 2001, the deadline for submitting requests for the reconstruction of houses destroyed in the war expired. Requests could be submitted by persons who intend to return, with the exact number of persons who would be returning and living in the reconstructed houses being stated. This does not mean that all the houses that have been torn down would be rebuilt, but rather only the houses of returnees, and this also very restrictively in the sense of the size of the space that will be repaired. This deadline did not apply to the houses of Yugoslav citizens which were also torn down in a large number of cases, or houses in which no one will live, but which have been inherited.

a) Documents

In ordinary circumstances, one forgets that there are people who are practically forgotten. Younger and more resourceful people have long since managed to collect their documents. Some now even have them in excess (all the citizenships, and refugee documents).The helpless and sick depend on those who help them, but also on the good will of responsible bodies. There is less self will. Authorized bodies are slowly realizing that it is not patriotic to harass people of other ethnicities.

D.P. lives in a Home for children without parental care in Belgrade. The management of this institution had attempted a number of times over the previous years to obtain from the municipality of Rab, the Republic of Croatia, documents for this refugee who has been left completely alone, and is also mentally ill. He was born on the island of Rab as an illegitimate child. He has been at this Home since 1992, and has been receiving social welfare since birth.

This situation has been resolved successfully. D.P. received his document, which will largely make his future easier.

b) Missing persons

A constantly present topic following the wars. The existence of such situations attests to the lack of will on the part of the state to resolve them. There is a conspiracy of silence for a number of reasons. The most important among them is to conceal the possible truth about committed crimes and the elimination of potential witnesses, but there is also the fact that this is a constant reminder of what can happen in a conflict. Experts dealing with this issue believe that most of these persons are no longer alive. It has been ten years since their disappearance. On the other hand, there are the families that do not wish to reconcile with the truth and the fact that they do not know where their relatives have been buried. The commissions dealing with the search for missing persons on all the sides are working very poorly, in an impassioned manner, and are primarily protective of their states. It is always the others who are to blame for everything, and arguments are also presented as to who has a larger number of missing persons and who is more endangered.

Olga Papac from Zagreb is searching for her son Krešimir. He was captured near Vinkovci in 1991. According to the testimonies of certain soldiers, he was seen at the penitentiary in Sremska Mitrovica in 1992 where he was brought with a wounded leg.

Several similar stories are linked to the prison in Sremska Mitrovica. Unidentified persons have been found and buried in that town. It is also said that some have been buried around the prison fence without their graves being marked. The state of Serbia persistently keeps refusing to speak about this phenomenon, since it would thus admit its involvement in the wartime events in Croatia. The fact that captives from the territory of Slavonia were brought to Serbia and kept their as prisoners of war, where some were lucky enough to be exchanged, shows that both the army and the Interior Ministry were involved in the disappearance of people.

Mladen Brlekovic from Sisak, captured by Serb soldiers in 1995 while tending his cows on a field, was taken to Petrinja. When operation "Storm" began, he was transferred to Bosnia-Herzegovina where every trace of him is lost.

There is no information about his movements either. He disappeared at a time when no one felt responsible for the human life and could act according to one's will. It is this ideology that produced a major crime.

c) Prisoners

There are different estimates of the number of persons being kept in prisons in the Republic of Croatia as prisoners of war. According to reports, the largest number of them are in the Split area, mostly in the prisons in Solin and Lora. Officials say that there are no prisoners, as they have all already been "exchanged". The only ones still kept there are those being tried for war crimes, or convicted for them. The convicts believe they are being kept there only because they are Serbs.

A group of prisoners in Solin has been imprisoned there for six years now without any guilt on their part having been proved. When the act of armed rebellion became subject to amnesty, their charges were revised into war crimes, for which they have been convicted. They consider themselves innocent and are requesting contacts with international courts where they would prove their innocence, since they claim that the courts in the Republic of Croatia are biased. The persons in question are Milenko Bodrožic, Dušan Erakovic, Vasa Graovac, Ilija Erakovic, Peter Bjelobrk, Jovan Bilic, Željko Dabic, Slobodan Despic and others.

It is necessary urgently to carry out a revision of the trials of these people, to establish the existence of the criminal acts they are being accused of and whether there is evidence for the perpetration of these acts. Apart from confessions made under coercion, there is hardly any serious evidence against them. This is attested to by the verdicts which could be seen on a number of occasions.

d) Pensions

There are no major novelties in this sphere. It is only recently that the agreement on social insurance between the FRY and the Republic of Croatia was ratified. For civilians, access to this unalienable right is somewhat normalizing. Most difficult of all is to obtain arrears, i.e. the pensions that were not paid out during the war and the period when these people lived as refugees. As things now stand, each individual will have to achieve this right before a responsible court. Nevertheless, it is members of the former JNA who have fared the worst. Their rights are hardly ever and very reluctantly spoken of, everyone agrees that this issue needs to be resolved, but the realization of these rights is still coupled with insurmountable obstacles. Soldiers are also most often vitally linked to several regions of the former state, which additionally burdens this already very difficult problem.

Gradimir Glogovac from Knin spent his entire career working for the JNA. In 1995, his active service was terminated by the decision of the responsible army post office department. He ended his military career in the so-called Krajina where he stayed at an UNPROFOR base during operation "Storm", after which he returned to his apartment. Due to the circumstances of his life, the Republic of Croatia does not recognize his right to a pension, which he has been informed about, and he is encountering great difficulties in having his right to a pension recognized in the FRY. Here they do not deny the fact that he does have the right to a full pension, but new requests constantly keep being placed before him. It should be added that he is currently on social welfare from which he is supporting his two sons, one of whom is sick. He is a widower.

Regardless of the time that has passed, there are, nevertheless, indications that the pensions of these persons will be regulated and that they will no longer depend on someone's good will. This person fulfills all the conditions, so that this situation is expected to be resolved soon.

e) Apartments

Apart from documents, most often spoken about have been the enormous problems with the return of real estate to its previous users. Problems exist with both private property and tenancy rights. The issue of tenancy rights has been resolved in Bosnia-Herzegovina, although the law is frequently abused. However, execution has proved to be the stumbling block in regard to both tenancy and ownership rights. Under the regulations, these rights are normally recognized, but in practice they are still very difficult to implement. Those who are helpless and elderly encounter special difficulties. In the Republic of Croatia there is still no adequate response to the question of recognizing the same usage rights over real estate as have been recognized to the citizens of Croatia who are ethnic Croats. This obvious discrimination will soon be resolved. The eviction of those occupying other people's apartments still causes unease and a multitude of problems.

Milka Šolic from Sarajevo, now a refugee in the FRY. She lives in a refugee camp with her daughter. Milka is 95 years old, and her daughter is 71. She has received the decision of the authorized commission for the return of her apartment, but she still cannot take possession of it. A Shehid family lives in her apartment and is refusing to act upon the decision. The authorities in Sarajevo have shown no resoluteness to resolve this case.

e) Property

Real estate left without an owner for a long time falls into ruin, apart from the fact that it is exposed to various forms of abuse and deceit. The biggest problem is when someone moves into a building without permission, or when movables are stolen. Not rare have been the cases of the mining of the houses of people who have fled, whereby no one is currently being held responsible for this. The authorities in the Republic of Croatia have decided that the state will not assume responsibility for damage inflicted in such a manner. Nevertheless, there is a chance that, when the law is changed, the responsibility of the state for the destruction of houses is recognized. Swindling and sale at extremely low and blackmailing prices are still present.

Božo Durdevic from Slavonska Požega, did not manage to protect his property from his brother. He owns a house in Našicki Gradac, but this house was sold by his brother to a third party without the owner's consent and he let the "new" owner into the property. Of course, he kept for himself the entire amount of the money obtained from this transaction. Since Božo still lives in the FRY, he needs to hire a lawyer in the Republic of Croatia, to request the annulment of such a contract and propose the eviction of the person now living in the house, believing to be the owner.

The establishment of states governed by law and proper courts, devoid of any prejudice, will begin with the regulation of non-legal situations.



State bodies dealing with the status of foreigners are somewhat less aggressive, except for certain MUP members in smaller towns. There one can still encounter the self-will of the local sheriffs, which also necessarily implies the use of force and threat of imprisonment, or forcible bringing in by the police. These structures used to be paid to turn a blind eye to illegal residents. This is now starting to be controlled, so that bribery is less possible, especially in the light of the large-scale smuggling of people across the state border for the purpose of their further sale.

Mihalcea Stefan Catalin is Romanian. He legally entered the FRY with a travel document. On October 4, 2001 he was on the terrace of the house on Lake Srebrno where he was hired to do manual work for the owner of the house Vladimir Dobricic, at whose address he is legally registered. Two policemen appeared and asked for his travel document. After searching him, they took him with them to the police station in Veliko Gradište. They interviewed him there, asking about the owner of the house he was working for. Whenever he would say that he did not know the answer to the posed question, he would be slapped in the face. The last name of the policemen who was doing this was Šekularac. He was forced to sign a statement obtained under coercion, under the threat of being banned from entering the FRY. This group of policemen led by the said Šekularac is well known in the area as a team that likes to harass people and overstep its authority.

Members of the former JNA, who did not stay to serve in Serbia, but rather returned to their original states, are being persecuted in various ways. This is especially visible in the case of apartments. Attempts administratively to regulate the loss of their right to the use of apartments is often turned into its opposite, which is legally very difficult to explain.

Djuka Velic from Zagreb lived until 1992 in Belgrade in an apartment over which he had usage rights. That same year, he paid in the entire amount for the buy-up of the apartment, but did not conclude a contract, since the army did not conclude individual contracts at the time. After making the payment, he went to the Republic of Croatia. It is only in 1995, through a proxy, that he concluded a contract on the buy-up of the apartment, when he formally became its owner. Soon after the conclusion of the contract on the buy-up, the VJ initiated action for the annulment of the contact on the use of the apartment. These proceedings were persistently conducted and execution finally took place. According to this decision, the court ordered the owner to move out of his real estate. Meanwhile, the VJ allowed the owner to enter the apartment into the land register, on the basis of the bought-up value. Eviction has been scheduled, so the legally registered owner is forcibly being evicted from the apartment because he is a Croat.

A request has been submitted for the reinstitution of proceedings, but it is not known whether he will previously be evicted or whether a retrial will be allowed.

Coming from Slovenia (Marko Perak and Sreten Žerajic) are questions concerning the Agreement on the Succession of the former SFRY. They too do not know when this agreement will be made public, and when it will be ratified and published. The bodies in Slovenia have still not ratified the agreement, as has not been done by the FRY either. The problem because of which the need for succession has arisen is the return of Romas to Kosovo and Metohija, who have requested asylum in Slovenia and are in the position soon to obtain it. The Republic of Slovenia is not very willing to grant this asylum, believing that there exist conditions for their return.

As regards the return of Kosovo Romas to Kosovo, this does not seem to be very likely at the moment. According to writings in the local press there and statements by current politicians, it is still not safe for Serbs and Romas to return, while there will be no problems, as they claim, for other inhabitants to return and continue their life there.

A Dutch refugee organization and its associate Rosalie Ohm are requesting an opinion on regulations pertaining to the obtainment of Yugoslav citizenship. At issue is a mixed married between a Serb women from BiH and an Albanian from Kosovo. They both live in Germany and are seeking asylum. The office dealing with the issue of asylums is unfamiliar with the true state of affairs concerning citizenship, i.e. whether practice differs from regulations when it comes to the possibility of this foreigner (a Serb woman from Bosnia) obtaining Yugoslav citizenship through her marriage with a citizen of the FRY, but an Albanian from Kosovo.

It is true that the practice in Serbia differs from the regulations. One can suspect that the interior ministry bodies will have a different attitude to an ethnic Albanian, but one needs to know that Kosovo has its own local bodies that have not been elected by the Serbian Parliament, and that in such cases they decide freely and independently, so that there should be no problem for this person to complete this in Kosovo. On the other hand, the wife is a Serb, which would also make it difficult for her to obtain citizenship. However, if the Albanian has permanent residence on the territory of so-called Serbia Proper, then the procedure would be conducted in a different environment where the procedure could become very difficult.

The Immigration Appeals Board of Oslo is requesting an opinion on the status of military service in so-called southern Serbia. The question is whether Albanians are recruited for regular army service and whether anything has changed in this regard.

There are no novelties in this respect. Albanians still do not serve the army nor are they recruited for military service.

Prepared by
Biljana Stanojevic



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