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INFO   :::  Human Rights > Legal Aid > Legal Assistance Report (April 1, 2001- June 30,2001)


Legal Assistance Report
(April 1, 2001- June 30,2001)

08/17/2002, Source: Legal Assistance Report (1 Apr - 30 Jun 2001), Author: HCHRS


Characteristic of the observed period is the fact that the number of reported cases by far exceeds all the previous periods. Such a large number is obviously indicative of at least two things: that people have been relieved of fear for their lives and the lives of their dear ones, with this relief of fear enabling easier communication with the outside world, and the second reason is the fact that little has changed, even though a formal change of power has taken place. The large expectations have finally acquired the right measure. The situation in the state does not offer great possibilities, and the citizens' stocks of money, as well as their patience are running thin.

The Republic of Serbian is being faced with a certain number of unavoidable questions, but there is no readiness to tackle them. Cherished as a major nonsense is the farce about a joint state with Montenegro, and in line with this, the existence of the federal state, whose competencies do not exceed the boundaries of Serbia Proper, is being falsely presented.

Bad about all this is the fact that not even the authorities are prepared to familiarize the citizens with everything awaiting them in the upcoming period, or with the things quite certainly done in the past (Srebrenica, Vukovar, Kosovo). What is awaiting Serbia is neither easy nor pleasant, and it will be necessary to understand and face the following:

- cooperation with the Criminal Tribunal in The Hague reached it culmination with the extradition of the former FRY president (June 28, 2001), as well as the procedure related to this act;

- the federal prime minister resigned, thus preventing any action by the federal authorities, already standing on forced-out fragile political legs ever since the federal elections in 2000;

A new prime minister designate is currently being sought, only for the agony to be prolonged.

- the issue of the federal state's survival is becoming increasing serious, as is the issue of the constitutions at all levels.

There is talk about proposals for the new federal Constitution, even though no final agreement with Montenegro had previously been reached;

- Survival at any cost, especially with the help of a party (Socialist People's Party - SNP) that has always been in a coalition with the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and which is probably also co-responsible for a large number of criminal acts committed by the former leaders, is discrediting the new authorities' actions, and is also considerably slowing down the state's recovery.

- the first steps in the stratification of the victorious coalition have been made, and elections at all levels have been announced, which would mean the fall of the republican Government and all levers of power established with great difficulty after the republican parliamentary elections (the MP group of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) has separated from the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS); republican Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Obradovic was dismissed and the whole affair surrounding it).

- the inevitability of the true functioning of the judicial system despite impossible conditions (there is still no state prosecutor, no changes have been made in the federal court, most of the judges have not been replaced...).

- a series of new regulations pertaining to important spheres have been adopted, but they still fail to be implemented, due to the balance of forces within the highest state bodies of authority. Federal regulations are being applied only by Serbia Proper, while, due to problems at lower levels of power (local bodies of authority comprise at least three political options, mutually totally different), the implementation of republican regulations, which are relatively easy to adopt (there has so far existed a compact parliamentary majority) is lagging.

- alongside the power struggle within the victorious coalition, and also with the remnants of the previous regime, social problems constantly continue to deepen.

If one were to choose the key words marking this three-month period, they would be: Hague Tribunal, crime, prisons, welfare considerations and health care.

Several hundred persons addressed the Helsinki Committee for legal assistance. Assistance was sought by citizens of Serbia, refugees and foreigners. The number of provided pieces of legal advice exceeds the figure of 800. Seventy persons received full legal protection.

According to their structure, the cases can be classified into several categories;

a) Foreigners- divorce(1), cross-border travel(2), missing persons(2), citizenship issues(1)

b) Citizens- cases concerning the work of courts (enforcement of sentences, course of proceedings, illegality, slowness) (15), housing issues (8), welfare considerations (5), discrimination (6), prison (7), pensions (2), Interior Ministry (MUP), denationalization, damage, citizenship, asylum, army, administration...

c) Legal assistance within the "I Want To Go Home" project

In this period, 464 persons requested legal advice and legal services, 400 requests for subsequent inclusion into the citizenship register of the Republic of Croatia were made, 165 requests for receiving applications for travel certificates based on subsequent inclusion in Croatian citizenship registers were filed, 351 travel certificates were obtained, 208 requests for travel certificates were made.

d) Refugees - including displaced persons from Kosovo-Metohija; kidnapped Serbs from Kosovo and those against whom legal proceedings have been instituted (3), citizenship, pensions (2).

e) Attorney assistance -

In proceedings for damage compensation to illegally mobilized persons, 70 hearings were held before the Municipal Court in Belgrade, and there were also cases concerning various types of legal issues.

The case of Šijan against the FRY state before the Second Municipal Court in Belgrade;

Iseni against the "Pobjeda" company before the Fourth Municipal Court in Belgrade;

Štekovic, civil lawsuit, the Second Municipal Court in Belgrade;

Spahija Isljam, eviction from apartment, First Municipal Court in Belgrade;

First Court in Belgrade, Virovkic against the FRY, labor litigation;

Municipal Court in Ruma, Lazic Teodor-Belegiški, lawsuit for the establishment of facts;

Fourth Municipal Court in Belgrade, the State of the FRY against Pavla Cajka, eviction;

First Municipal Court in Belgrade,

Second Municipal Court in Belgrade, Jelic against the GSP company, labor litigation;

First Municipal Court in Belgrade, Spahija against housing cooperative, eviction;

Second Municipal Court in Belgrade, Štekovic against the FRY state;

Second Municipal Court in Belgrade, Žakula against "Beograd Sigurnost";

Fourth Municipal Court in Belgrade, Cajka against FRY, eviction.

f) New republican and federal laws adopted (April 1- June 30, 2001)

The participants in the second session of the Republican Parliament's first regular sitting, held on April 11, 2001, adopted

1) The Law on the Tax on Personal Income (Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia No.24 of April 12, 2001, comes into force within eight days of its publication)

The law pertains to persons achieving income. Any amendments and additions can be made only under this law. The obvious aim is protection from ruling by decrees. The tax rates were mostly increased and do not correspond to the true state in society; it is true that, from the legal standpoint, the law is descent and harmonized with European trends. It is obviously necessary to survive the period when European standards do not correspond to the citizens' objective possibilities.

The law has met with strong opposition, since, following the sanctions and the obliteration of the citizens' obligations towards the state, any introduction of institutional frameworks is taken as a personal attack.

The second session of the Serbian Assembly's regular sitting held on April 17, 2001, adopted

2) The Law on the Corporate Income Tax (Official Gazette No.25 of April 18, 2001, comes into force within eights days of its publication)

No major objections can be made to this law, except that, for some incomprehensible reason, it says in one place (part of 11 laws - transitional and concluding provisions in sub-paragraph 1) that companies would continue to enjoy the privileged positions acquired under the previous law, until the expiry of the deadline envisaged by the privileged contract.

The participants in the second session of the Serbian Assembly, held on April 18, 2001, adopted four laws,

3) The Law on Income Taxes (Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia No.26 of February 20, 2001, comes into force within eight days of its publication

Provisions of this law pertain to taxes on the possession of real estate. In short, it introduces high taxes for persons possessing expensive things, so that their value corresponds to the amount of the set and collected taxes.

4) Law on the Tax on the Usage, Possession and Transfer of Assets

5) Law on Amendments to the Law on Housing

6) Law on the Tax on Financial Transactions

At the second session of the first regular sitting, held on April 23, 2001, adopted were

7) The Law on Amendments and Additions to the Law on Local Self-government (Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia No.27 of April 26, 2001)

The Law on Local Self-government (Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbian No.49/99 of 1999) underwent minimal changes.

8) Law on the Payroll Tax

This law can be said to be among those comprising the package of fiscal laws necessary for the functioning of new business relations.

At the third session of the first regular sitting, held on May 4, 2001, one Resolution and one Law were adopted.

9) Resolution on the situation in Kosovo-Metohija and the position of the Serb nation and members of other non-Albanian communities (Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia No.28 of May 4, 2001)

The Resolution expresses concern and concludes that the conditions and state of security have deteriorated since the arrival of KFOR. Conditions for return are increasingly few. Criticism of the work of international factors and their focus on the adoption of regulations on local self-government, and not on the creation of conditions for the safe life of non-Albanians, without killings and kidnappings. The Serbian Assembly speaker stated that 94 persons were killed, 363 wounded, 29 kidnapped and 91 houses burnt down in Kosovo-Metohija in the year 2001. Customs checkpoints are especially arousing a feeling of unease and suspicion regarding the possible separation of Kosovo-Metohija. A special problem is the drawing up of the "Legal framework for the temporary self-government of Kosovo", which does not create conditions for equality; requested is the strict respect of Security Council Resolution 1244.

10) Law on Amendments and Additions to the Law on Labor Relations

Provisions pertain to harmonization with standards. It is obviously necessary to adopt a new and comprehensive law.

The second session of the Serbian Assembly's first regular sitting held on May 8, 2001, adopted 7 laws.

11) Law on Amendments and Additions to the Law on Employment and Rights of Unemployed Persons (Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia No.29, May 17, 2001)

The regulation in itself regulates the sensitive issue of social cases, as well as the very hard to resolve issue of the financial position of the unemployed and those left without jobs.

12) Law on Amendments and Additions to the Law on Pension and Invalid Insurance

13) Law on Amendments and Additions to the Law on Marriage and Family Relations

14) Law on the Abolition of the Law on Solidarity Funds for Employees Temporarily out of Work due to War-time Activities

15) Law on Amendments and Additions to the Law on Health Insurance

16) Law on Amendments and Additions to the Law on Social Care for Children

17) Law on Amendments and Additions to the Law on Social Welfare and Ensuring Social Security for the Citizens

On May 25, 2001, the Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia published

18) The Decree on the files of citizens of the Republic of Serbia with the State Security (DB) becoming unclassified

The Decree was adopted as a possible response to the need for making public the files unlawfully kept by the DB. The collected information is made accessible to citizens, but in an inadequate form. It is possible to see the files at official premises, without the possibility of making copies, and without the disclosure of the persons who had informed on the citizens. The decree does not regulate the further fate of these file, it is not known whether or not they will be destroyed and in what kind of a procedure, and the issue of the further work on such records also remains unknown. No citizen is able to see the file of another person. This models ranks among the most restrictive possible file openings.

The Republican Government took a new decision on amending the Decree on files of citizens of the Republic of Serbia with the State Security (DB) becoming unclassified (Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia No.31 of May 31, 2001) An amendment in such a short period of time attests to the poor organization and preparation of this very important issue. It is obvious that the Government does not have a clear idea about what to do with these documents, and so it proposes halfway and unfounded solutions. Solutions do exist in the world and they could be applied in the FRY as well. The amendments to the decree concern its very name, so that the Decree is now called - the Decree of offering insight into files of citizens of the Republic of Serbia kept by the State Security. Also, the amendments strictly specify which persons can gain insight into the files. At issue are persons considered internal enemies, those linked to extremism and terrorism in the period from the establishment of this service to the day the Decree came into force.

On May 31, 2001, the republican Government published in the Official Gazette No.32 of June 7, 2001

19) Declaration on the situation in Kosovo-Metohija, obligations of the international community and the government of the Republic of Serbia (RS)

The declaration concerns the establishment of the Government's stands on the non-acceptance of the constitutional framework for temporary self-government since it prejudices a final solution for Kosovo, a revision of this document is proposed, it is considered that conditions do not exist for the holding of elections, an investigation into the cases of missing and kidnapped persons is once again requested.

The participants in the session of the seventh extraordinary sitting of the RS Assembly, held on June 13, 2001, adopted

20) The Law on Salaries in State Bodies and Public Services (Official Gazette of RS No.34 of June 18, 2001)

At the session of the seventh extraordinary sitting of the RS Assembly, held on June 21, 2001, adopted was

21) The Law on the One-off Excess Profits Tax and Excess Income Tax for Profit and Income Acquired through the Use of Special Privileges (Official Gazette of the RS No.36 of June 2, 2001)

The adoption of this law has provoked controversial reactions and given rise to the same kind of arguments. At issue are arguments in favor of the thesis that this represents the legalization of unlawfully acquired assets. As the reason for such a decision the Government mentioned the need to fill the budget, but also the respect of the encountered situation. Opponents believe this has made it possible for criminals to become new capitalists and thus cover up their offenses. It is also believe that all the money obtained in such a manner is illegal and must, therefore, be taken away. At the same time, it is necessary to institute criminal proceedings against such persons.

At the session of the RS seventh extraordinary sitting held on June 27, 2001 a certain number of law concerning privatization were adopted

22) Law on Privatization, Law on the Privatization Agency, Law on the Share Fund (Official Gazette of the RS No.38 of June 29, 2001)

Federal regulations - indicative are the issues to which the federal state affords a legal form.

At its session on May 8, 2001, the Federal Parliament's Chamber of Citizens adopted

1) The Law on Amending the Law on FRY Decorations, Law on Genetically Modified Organisms, Law on Amendments and Additions to the Law on the Special Federal Turnover Tax on Goods and Services for 2001, Law on Amendments to the Law on Federal Administrative Taxes, Law on Amendments to the Law on the Federal Budget for 2001, Law on the Fund for Stimulating the Development of Agricultural Regions, Law on Amending the Law on the Census of the Population, Households and Apartments in 2001 (Official Gazette of the FRY, No.21 of May 11, 2001)

The laws regulating taxes and duties at the federal level have one shortcoming - they are applied only on the territory of the so-called Serbia Proper. Montenegro and Kosovo-Metohija do not fall under the jurisdiction of these taxes, so that the citizens of Serbia have an additional burden imposed by the federal state.

It is important to emphasize that the population census will be postponed for a year. There is no argumentation for this postponement except the stated reasons of a political nature and the pretence of the existence of the federal state.

At its session on May 9, 2001, the Federal Parliament's Chamber of Citizens adopted

2) The Law on Amendments and Additions to the Law on Accountancy (Official Gazette of the FRY No.22 of May 18, 2001)

At its session of May 15, 2001, the Federal Parliament's Chamber of Citizens adopted three laws on foreign trade

3) The Law on Amendments and Additions to the Law on Foreign Trade, Law on Amendments and Additions to the Customs Law, Law on the Customs Tariff (Official Gazette of the FRY No.23 of May 24, 2001)

Official Gazette of the FRY of May 25, 2001 published

4) The Decision of the FRY Government on the Appointment of the Chairman, Deputy Chairmen and Members of the Federal Government's Commission for Establishing the War Damage Caused by the NATO Aggression Against the FRY.

The commission chairman is Zoran Šami, federal minister of transportation, and his deputy is Miodrag Kovac, the federal minister of health care and the welfare policy. The elected members of the commission are: Dragiša Pešic, federal finance minister, Milan Pak, Law Faculty professor, Zoran Živkovic, federal interior minister, Dušan Mihajlovic, Serbian interior minister, Miodrag Živkovic, director of the Federal Bureau of Statistics.

At its session on June 23, 2001, the federal government adopted

5) The Decree of the Procedure for Cooperating with the International Criminal Tribunal (Official Gazette of the FRY No. 30 of June 23, 2001)

The Decree was adopted without the presence of government members from the SNP and it regulates cooperation with the Tribunal, since the Law on cooperation had been withdrawn from procedure. The document contains a description of the procedure for extraditing persons indicted for war crimes.

On June 22, 2001, the Federal Parliament's Chamber of Citizens adopted

6) The Law on Amendments to the Law on the General Administrative Procedure, Law on Amendments and Additions to the Law on Federal Court Taxes, Law on Establishing the Total Amount of Funds for Financing the Provisions of Facilities Necessary for Accommodating Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons on the Territory of FRY in 2001

The Official Gazette of the FRY - International agreements, published on May 11, 2001 laws on the ratification of international agreements;

7) Law on the Ratification of the Annex to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, Law on the Ratification of Acts of the Federal Postal Union, Law on the Ratification of the FRY's Joining of the Customs Convention on Containers, Geneva 1972, Law on the Ratification of Instruments for Amending the Constitution of the International Telecommunications Union and Instruments for Amending the Convention of the International Telecommunications Union, Law on the Ratification of the Agreement between the FRY and the Republic of Macedonia on Social Insurance, Law on the Ratification of the Agreement between the FRY and the Republic of Croatia on Social Insurance, Law on the Ratification of the Agreement between the FRY and the government of the Republic of Italy on the Mutual Stimulation and Protection of Investments, Law on the Ratification of the Agreement between the FRY and the Government of the Republic of Korea on Avoiding Double Taxation Related to Income and Property Taxes, Law on Ratification of the Agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and the FR Yugoslavia on Delineation and Description of the State Border, Law on the Ratification of the Agreement on the Establishment of Special Parallel Relations between the FRY and Republika Srpska, Law on the Ratification of the Agreement between the FRY and the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria on the Return and Reception of Persons Illegally Residing on the Territories of the Two States, Law on the Ratification the European Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions Concerning Custody of Children and on Restoration of Custody of Children, Law on the Ratification of the Agreement between the FRY Government and the Government of the Czech Republic on Mutual Assistance in Customs Affairs, Law on the Ratification of the Agreement between the FRY and the Government of the Russian Federal on Free Trade betwen the FRY and the Russian Federation.

8) Law on the Ratification of the Addition to the Agreement between the FRY and the Government of the Russian Federation on Granting the FRY a State Credit for Financing the Deliveries of Russian Equipment, Goods and Services of December 3, 1997, Law on the Ratification of the Agreement between the FRY and the Ministerial Cabinet of Ukraine on the Mutual Stimulation and Protection of Investments.

Characteristic of the adopted regulations is the fact that those at the republican level are mostly new ones, while it is only amendments and additions that are adopted in relation to federal regulations. In view of the situation in the federation, such action by legislative bodies is appropriate.



Apart from legal advice requested by persons and organizations from abroad, on this occasion we also consider foreigners those persons who became foreigners from the aspect of international law after the disintegration of the former SFRY. Having lived in the joint state of the SFRY until 1991, these persons acquired certain rights and obligations towards persons from the present-day FRY. Problems of this nature are still not on the agenda of state bodies, and it is as if they do not exist at all. In resolving them, it is necessary to revise the possibility of crossing the border, to have strict respect of the laws where they exist, to conclude a large number of bilateral agreements which would facilitate and accelerate the resolution of various issues. The Yugoslav Law on Dual Citizenship was a major relief in this regard, although the legal effects of such a situation are not absolutely known. There is still no explanation for cross-border travel between the FRY and the Republic of Croatia with the use of passports acquired under the law on dual citizenship. So far, passports have been hidden and shown at opposite borders...

a) Crossing the state border

The crossing of the border between neighboring countries, once part of the same state, has been regulated in various manners. Attempts are now being made to resolve the issue in a legal manner and to eliminate all machinations and unlawfulness. Two things present themselves as problems. One is the visa regime and the use of passports by dual citizens; the second is the issue of cross-border travel by former citizens of the SFRY concerning their rights to carry foreign currency.

D. Morovic from Belgrade, a citizen of Croatia and the FRY, does not dare pass the state border with her Croatian passport, since she had been compelled to hide it until now. Following the amendments and additions to the Law on Yugoslav Citizenship, this issue should not present itself as a problem. However, this is not how things stand in practice, and there are also no by-laws regulating in greater detail the issue of cross-border travel by dual citizens (Serbia and Croatia). This is not an issue in the case of dual citizenship when in question are states that were not members of the federation of the SFRY.

When an explanation was sought at the Serbian Interior Ministry (the truth be told, the authorities of the Republic of Croatia do not create problems) it was not possible to determine for sure whether these persons would have a problem when crossing the FRY border with Croatia if they show their Croatian passport but have permanent residence in the FRY. All that is important in this case is for the persons with dual citizenship to have the same address on both travel documents. Over the past years, a certain number of refugees and citizens of the FRY who had citizenship status in Croatia, obtained their documents in the Republic of Croatia based on addresses at which they were registered for this sole specific purpose. These persons will have to harmonize their documents by obtaining a travel document containing the address of their permanent residence at the consulate of the Republic of Croatia in the FRY.

On March 13, 2001, when crossing the border at Surcin airport, Fahrija S. from Tuzla, a citizen of Bosnia-Herzegovina was kept for inspection, on the occasion of which 3,100DM were taken away from her. She was traveling to Prague, but she found herself at Surcin because the costs of the Belgrade-Prague flight were more favorable. She was going to visit her daughters who have been living there since the war, and was carrying the money with her for medical treatment badly needed by one of the daughters. She obtained the money through a pensioner credit. Fahrija did not know that she was supposed to report money when entering the FRY and thus acquire a transit status, but she rather showed the entire amount she was carrying with her to the customs officer at passport control, strongly believing that there would be no problems in this regard, otherwise she would have tried to hide it. When the money was taken from her, she was told that it would be returned to her on her return. The money has not been return to date, despite requests filed to the responsible body - the federal hard currency inspectorate.

When she entered the FRY again, the border police did not issue this person a certificate on the money she brought into the FRY in order for her to be protected when leaving the FRY.

For over two months, the Helsinki Committee has been waiting for a response from the federal hard currency inspectorate in regard to this case and the possible resolution of this legal situation. The trend of disrespecting the law in the case of border crossing obviously continues, and habits are especially difficult to change when kept money needs to be returned.

b) Divorce and issues of custody of under-age children

These issues have been attracting attention for a decade now, and their placement at the top of the list of priorities is, above all, a moral issue. When the disintegration of the SFRY and the wars in the Balkans started, there appeared the frequent practice of kidnapping one's own children, and the prevention of the other parent, of a different ethnicity, from seeing his or her child. Of course, the reasons here primarily concern inter-ethnic intolerance, but also the lack of care on the part of the states involved in the legal disputes, or more precisely their support of such acts by individuals who are citizens of the newly created states. Practice has shown that the state invariably protects its own citizens, so that if the child is found of the territory of that state, even if it had been brought illegally, it stays there through the assistance of courts and other state bodies. This practice is slowly changing, since inter-state relations are also changing. The situation is now somewhat better, but even now it is necessary to engages lawyers and NGOs in order for the father to allow the mother to see their joint under-age child.

Sanja Dražic from Tenja, the Republic of Croatia, concluded a marriage in Osijek with Dragan Dražic. Until the outbreak of the war they lived in Croatia where their elder child was born. In 1991, they fled to the FRY, where they took up permanent residence in Kukujevci. The husband has a permanent job, and in 1996 their son was born. Already then their mutual relations considerably deteriorated. She became seriously sick, while the husband's requests for her to leave the house and return to her parents in Croatia became increasingly rough. In 1999, she obtained Croatian documents for herself and the children with the intention of returning to her parents. Her desire was for them to part in a civilized manner and without any further stress, but the husband did not agree to this. He allowed her to take the elder daughter, but absolutely refused to let the little son go. In mid 2000, she left and took the daughter with her. From that moment on, she had no contacts with the younger child. The husband explicitly forbids all meetings or any other contact. He even refused to allow the brother and sister to see each other.

The intolerance and actions out of spite, despite the harm being done to the minor, are obvious. The Helsinki Committee has taken measures to divorce this marriage before the responsible court in Šid and to regulate in this manner the mother's right to see the child. The request stated that, in view of the minor's age, it would be wiser to award the child to the mother. More will be known about this case when the procedure is completed. For the moment, agreement has been reached through out-of-court activities for the client to see the son in normal circumstances. Awaited now is being the decision of the court in the FRY before which the Helsinki Committee is representing the rights of this mother.



Since October 5, 2000, state bodies of the FRY and the Republic of Serbia have been trying to establish some kind of frameworks of a legal state. These attempts have mostly been unsuccessful. The reasons for this are large and profound; poverty, good will, the past and facing it in the full sense of the work, habits, the mentality of the citizens, but of politicians as well, political ignorance, as well as a lack of experience in the technology of ruling, the unconscious repetition of the previous regime's methods and manners of conduct. The most farcical is the idea about the rule of law when this institution is applied at random and used when necessary. The legalism of the president of the state has its ups and downs. The application of this principle is sporadic and mostly with political undertones. There is no need to mention all the segments which the federal authorities' legalism does not reach, while legalism is exercised in the segments that are accessible and when this is assessed to be profitable.

The latest example is the case of the extradition of former FRY president Slobodan Miloševic to the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. On that occasion, legal norms were toyed with. The federal state opposed this act through the president and the Federal Court, even though it is not in the position to apply this in the other federal unit, and the Montenegrin leadership independently took a decision on cooperation with the Tribunal, while illegal actions were ascribed to the leadership of the other federal unit. In this situation, like in many similar ones, the farcical nature of the federal state is obvious. Due to everything that has been said, it is difficult to see an end to the fiction which the FRY has been faced with for a number of years now. The building of democratic institutions, the rule of law and human rights are still at the level of experiments and this procedure will probably inevitably be embarked upon, since there is no other choice or alternative. Once we know the state borders of this something we still do not know the name of, we will be able to start improving the social position of the totally impoverished citizens, arrange jails according to European standards, build tolerance, revive the work of courts and the prosecutor's office and declare a merciless war on corruption and the mafia-type way of doing business which is still present and very powerful. For the moment, the transitional situation and the process which has been embarked upon are only additionally irritating the citizens and are leaving them without hope that they have something better to look for.

a) Problems concerning the work of courts

This sphere abounds in problems, but also in inabilities to resolve them. Changes in courts in regard to the method of work, but personnel changes as well, are progressing very slowly and inadequately to the needs of the society after the establishment of the new authorities. The complaints about the work of judicial bodies are various and they confirm the need for a comprehensive reform (a new law on courts in currently being drafted). However, one can say even on the basis of previous experiences that it is the implementation and not the adoption of laws that is a greater problem. The most visible are the problems concerning the work of the judiciary on the territory beyond the reach of the FRY judiciary and law. Obviously in retaliation for this, a large number of prisoners of Albanian nationality is being held in jails in Serbia, where they are serving various types of prison sentences, and they have not been amnestied or have been partially encompassed by amnesty. The manner in which members of the Albanian nationality are tried still has the taste of retribution and can hardly be considered fair and correct.

Gashi Erjument was serving a prison sentence at the jail in Istok when the NATO intervention against the FRY began. In June 1999, he was transferred to the penitentiary in Sremska Mitrovica. A week before the expiry of the sentence for which he was jailed, the decision on the extension of his detention arrived. On May 25, 2000, the main hearing was held and it did not last more than fifteen minutes. Without a single piece of evidence or any witness, he was sentenced to four years of imprisonment for the criminal act of serious robbery on the basis of article 166 of the Republic of Serbia's Criminal Law. He was charged with the robbery of the prison safe in Istok, an act perpetrated together with several other people. Another two Albanians were convicted as well. The proceedings were conducted before the Leskovac court, which is in charge of trying persons from Prizren on an ex-territorial basis. This sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court of Serbia on November 16, 2000.

Such proceedings, conducted and completed at a time heavily burdened by the events of 1999, must be subjected to revision and it must be made possible for the convicted persons, regardless of the passed sentence, to prove their possible innocence in a legal court procedure.

As regards Serbs charged with various criminal acts before courts in Kosovo-Metohija, the situation is somewhat different. It is proceedings for war crimes that are predominantly conducted, mostly on the basis of witness statements, and with the witnesses being of a single nationality. Court trials are conducted on the basis of laws from 1974, and it is now parity Councils, which are difficult to outvote, that are conducting the trials. This is especially true of the Supreme Court of Kosovo, which is presided over by a representative of Finland who is the guarantor of fair and just court trials in this period.

The District Court in Kosovska Mitrovica has convicted Miroslav Vuckovic for the criminal act of genocide based on article 141 of the Yugoslav Criminal Law and has sentenced him to 14 years of imprisonment. The prosecutor in the case was Jusuf Mejzini, and the president of the Court Council was Mahnut Haljimi. The chief witness of the prosecution was also an Albanian. The sentence was passed on January 18, 2001 and was handed to the accused. The deadline for deciding on the appeal has still not passed, which gives hope that that the evidence used by the prosecution in the proceedings would be more objectively evaluated.

Yet another Serb convicted by Kosovo courts is Miloš Jokic whom we have already reported on. In his case, the Supreme Court of Kosovo-Metohija revoked the sentence of the first-instance and returned the case to the lower court for revision. An acquittal is expected in this case.

Radoslav Kostic from Kosovska Mitrovica was arrested on June 5, 2001, when responding to a court summons for regulating apartment issues. He was charged with the criminal act of genocide and one-month detention was set. He was appointed an attorney.

The Helsinki Committee will establish contact and attend the trial if the prosecutor raises charges following the investigation, which is soon expected.

b) Complaints concerning work and legality

The lack of personnel and adequate legal frameworks for the free performing of judge duties have given rise to the citizens' dissatisfaction with the work of courts and their efficiency. The complaints are various and they concern biased judges, the interference of politics in their work, but also unlawful and malevolent acts by individual judges.

Žarko Komlenski from Paticevo was sued for annulling a contract on life-long support and a gift. The proceedings are being conducted before the Municipal Court in Ruma. The first-instance sentence was revoked twice by the Supreme Court of Serbia and it is now before the court of first instance for the third time. The municipal judge in both first instance procedures was Ružica Milanovic-Crnomarkovic. The complaint concerns the work the mentioned judge who pays no heed to the instructions of the Supreme Court, since she obviously has some kind of interest in the entire affair.

For the moment, no penalties are envisaged for judges who act in such a manner. The responsible bodies obviously do not have an insight into the work of judges, and even when they do, they do not have the personnel to make replacements.

The Serbian Royalist Movement of Kragujevac has complained about the work of the Municipal and District Courts in Kragujevac since, as they claim, cadre of the old regime still rule there. Such courts still discriminate against citizens in various manners. They especially point to the work of judge Ivan Milojevic and prosecutors Radiša Matic and Dragica Lojanica. All three of them are prominent members of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and the Yugoslav Left (JUL) and they truly did condone the violation of all the citizens' rights over the previous years. According to testimonies of convicted persons, these three relieved of responsibility even the most serious rights violators for money. Member of this organization Zoran Nikolic was sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment for having hit in a fight a person who later died. According to him, these three court employees requested the sum of 20,000DM for a sentence of less than five years.

The cases of corrupt courts are not sporadic and this is yet another reason why the change of judges and the strict supervision of their work is imperative.

Yet another link in the functioning and interaction of courts and penitentiaries seems to remain a mystery and adequate responses still do not seem to exist. Prisoners serving sentences continue to maintain contacts with various bodies, which is not envisaged by the law.

Slavoljub Jovanovic, born in 1972, on December 11, 2001, received the death penalty for murder. He was awaiting the execution of the penalty and the confirmation of the sentence by the Supreme Court at the penitentiary in Sremska Mitrovica. At issue is a person with serious health problems. Without any explanation or documents issued by responsible bodies, in the middle of the night, the convict was beaten up by the special police and, without any explanation, transferred to another penitentiary, to the pretrial detention unit.

There is still no explanation for such an act. At Sremska Mitrovica they have no response, and at the new prison they are unfamiliar with either the reasons for his transfer or his placement under protective custody. Apart from its unlawfulness, this act also places someone sentenced to death in an even worse position, since he is denied all the rights he is entitled to as a convicted person. The fact that he is in protective custody denies him the right to visits, packages, contacts etc. The Justice Ministry of the Republic of Serbia has not responded to the Helsinki Committee's inquiry about the reasons for such conduct. Since he is in detention, he is obviously under the jurisdiction of the district court, but it is not known whether some new detention will be set for him or whether something else would be done to afford this act of self-will some kind of form.

As regards enforcement, trends from the past seem to continue. The most sensitive part of transforming a non-legal state into a legal one is precisely the issue of enforcement. These are still no solid mechanisms obliging bodies and individuals-executors to perform their functions.

Zoran Vasovic from Niš has been trying to get the sentence passed on May 28, 1996 enforced. The sentenced was passed in a labor litigation against the Justice Ministry of the Republic of Serbia, and the ruling was that the employee be returned to work. Since the Ministry refused to act upon the ruling, the plaintiff submitted a proposal for enforcement to the responsible Fourth Court in Belgrade which ruled in favor of the enforcement on April 21, 1998. At the same time, the court fined the Ministry for not executing the court ruling. However, the court took no other actions towards enforcement. The mentioned sentence No.13/96 has still not been enforced.

Ljubina Belic from Belgrade is also unable to get a sentence from 1998 enforced. She has informed the responsible bodies about this, and has drawn attention to the conduct of the responsible court and members of the Serbian Interior Ministry who are obliged to assist in compulsory enforcement.

The duration of court trials often exceeds the time-frames within which they must be completed. It is not good for the rectification of any decision to last over ten years. Thus, the work of courts could become senseless.

Stevan Milovanovic, Dušanka Antovski and Gordana Kopše from Belgrade have been engaged in a lawsuit against the "Vodovod i Kanalizacija" company of Belgrade over labor regulations for 12 years now. Alongside with this, legal proceedings concerning housing issues and several criminal proceedings have been ongoing as well. So far, there is no intimation that these long proceedings could be completed. One cannot see any measures being taken to prevent the abuse of the judiciary, which is most often done through the procrastination of proceedings.

Without a radical reform, but also the education of employees who would change the established habits, there will be no progress towards just and fair trials. The lack of adequate court protection will produce new injustice and help the further development of corruption and the unlawful work of powerful individuals.

c.) Prisons in Serbia

The situation in prisons will obviously be the first test of the new authorities' intention to join the company of European nations. The types of unlawful actions taken against prisoners during all these years are not unknown. Prisons have become places for the demonstration of the self-will of powerful individuals, as well as the places of the terrible physical and psychological torture of prisoners. It was not possible exactly to determine which of these conditions were worse; either physical - the poor conditions of the facilities and the equipment in them, or the pressures and beatings by prison staff. In this regard, but also because of the need to establish the true situation in prisons in Serbia, for two months now the Helsinki Committee has been performing the monitoring of prisons. This been enabled by the Justice Ministry which has issued legal permits to the members of the monitoring team. Apart from jurists, the team also comprises a certain number of experts in direct contact with these spheres (psychiatrists, psychologists, adult-education specialists, pedagogues, physicians). The monitoring procedure includes the examination of the accommodation conditions, as well as the inquiry of the inmates who, without the presence of prison guards, can speak about their needs and the fulfillment of these needs. The monitoring team bases its work on the rules of the European Community as well as a number of conventions banning the torture of prisoners. The difficulties are of an objective, but a subjective nature as well. It is necessary to instruct prison employees in order for them to understand their changed role as soon as possible.

When visiting the Central Prison in Belgrade, which is actually not a correctional institution, one could notice that the conditions there were poor and that speedy and radical investments were necessary. The only descent wing is the one in which the former FRY president was kept until recently. Found in this prison were also some seventy Albanians who were transferred there after the October prison riot in Sremska Mitrovica and who are serving their prison sentences there under conditions of detention. At issue are not only those tried for the criminal act of terrorism, but also a large number of them (around 40) who were brought to Serbia after the withdrawal from the territory of Kosovo-Metohija, and who were sentenced for criminal acts that had nothing to do with criminal acts against the state. They describe themselves as "ordinary killers".

It is not known why they are serving their sentences outside Kosovo. It is only known that in this manner, they are, through no will of the prison staff, deprived of many rights they would have in their own places of residence. They do not have visitors, their relatives from Kosovo are unwilling to come to Serbia, especially younger men, they receive no packages since it is difficult for them to arrive from there, they get no weekends off for good behavior, and no annual vacations, since they cannot leave the territory of Serbia Propose. There is not one single legal reason for them to stay in Serbia, so that it is, therefore, necessary, to request their handover to bodies in Kosovo-Metohija.

In other jails there also exist problems called "Albanians". The treatment of these people has not significantly improved since the establishment of the new authorities, except, as the prisoners themselves say, they are no longer physically maltreated. Furthermore, they are somehow deprived of most of their rights by inertia.

Haki Demcanaj who is serving his sentence at the district prison in Zajecar is requesting a transfer to the penitentiary in Niš. He and the other inmates have, for years now, been under strict protective custody which prevents them from having contact with their families.

One gains the impression that this is a way to exert pressure on the prisoners, without subjecting them to physical torture. Protective custody is used as a means of abuse and of creating a feeling of insecurity among persons who already feel insecure.

d.) Housing issues

Remnants of the previous regime are most visible in this sphere. Apartments have always been a means for manipulation and for buying people and making them act in a certain way; those who were "close" and suitable always had the advantage.

There are various types of malversations, but in most of the cases they are "covered by the law".

In a state with large social problems, with a million unemployed people, with over a million people without apartments, with 500,000 refugees and displaces persons whose housing problem has not been solved, the resolution of housing issues offers broad opportunity for abuse.

Slavica Davidovic-Cuk from Belgrade, has been engaged in a lawsuit against Jugobanka in Belgrade over the granting of a credit for the improvement of living conditions, since she has already partly solved her housing problem. She has filed a lawsuit since she is not in the position to achieve her rights within the regular procedure. She believes this is happening to her because of her knowledge about the work of the administration and unlawful activities in the previous period. She has spoken publicly about her knowledge.

Specific are the problems of artists and those who depend on the will of the state. Leading artists can obtain and request an apartment only if the republican ministry were to decide to award it from its funds. It is not difficult to imagine how much money and good will there is for people from the spheres of arts and culture.

This is why a prima donna of the Belgrade opera does not have an adequate apartment and space to practice and prepare her roles. Such requests and complaints seem tasteless to competent bodies at a time when the poverty of the population has reached its culmination. The questions remains as to whether there is room for culture and art, and whether all the irregularities will continue to be covered up with lamentation, and not tackled through specially designed programs.

Manipulation with priority lists is still the reason for courts proceedings in which the individual tries to resolve his rights concerning housing issues. Priority lists keep changing and favoring the like-minded.

Several persons from the company Zorica Tratnik from Belgrade was working for got involved in her case before she became seriously sick, the court proceedings are under way and are likely to have an unfavorable outcome. The legal grounds for acquiring the right to an apartment on the basis of the priority list will probably not produce a favorable outcome for the party.

The sphere of apartments and their use will burden the judicial system for yet a number of years to come, since the buy-up has been completed, while all the unsolved cases are about to be completed.

e.) School system - Ministry of education and sports

A sensitive segment of society such as education requires maximal efforts and fully coordinated legal regulations. At the same time, it is necessary to have the personnel that will adequately deal with the education of children, and apart from educating, the sphere of education also implies certain lessons in ethics and aesthetics. The school system in Serbia, including high education, has been neglected for years, so it was a springboard for a certain number of persons. Some found here the satisfaction of their years-long frustrations. The majority, meaning pupils and students, did not have an opportunity to become frustrated, but neither to acquire true knowledge. Several generations missed their chance to obtain adequate education, since there were often no classes at schools or the university. Long non-attendance due to strikes by dissatisfied teachers and their lack of interest in work have produced halfway solutions. The previous authorities believed that it would be easier to achieve their desires if they have semi-educated people. When everything was over and when the famous Law on the University was abolished, those well-intentioned thought this agony would come to an end. Some were especially encouraged when a respectable professor from a party whose orientations are of a civic, and therefore democratic nature took up the post of minister of education and sports. It seemed that there would be no more unlawful decisions, that no one will resort to the abuse of office. That only the capable and hardworking would be elected, while the executive authorities would cooperate on a daily basis with citizens and employees and thus hear and take into account their requests. The period of autistic authorities is, unfortunately, still not over in Serbia. Only a few months after his appointment, word got out about illegalities produced by the minister of education and his cabinet. Worst of all in this regard is the fact that acts and statements are often contradictory, which corroborates the thesis that there is no consistent stand on how to handle this important sphere. Strikes were staged in schools of various profiles, a debate on the introduction of religious teaching into schools has been imposed, teachers are dissatisfied with the appointment of new directors and the manner in which this is done. There are no sanctions for those who worked poorly until yesterday. On the contrary, cloaked in new parties, they are once again taking up their old posts. It seems that turncoats are nowhere as numerous as in the sphere of education. Most school staffs, predominantly in high schools, dissatisfied with the situation, are requesting to hear the minister who, surprisingly enough, does not have understanding for the requests of the employees, but rather once again places them in the position of the undesired. The newly appointed deans, enchanted by the newly acquired power, are placing themselves above the law, selflessly getting even with the previous deans. Those affected by all this are pupils and students who have already suffered more than enough at the hands of irresponsible authorities.

A group of teachers of the electric power industry school in Krnjaca has addressed a request to the minister of education for receiving assistance from competent bodies in resolving the accumulated irregularities in the work of the school. In their request they state that, among others, the greatest problems include the fact that teachers do not hold classes, that they come to school in an intoxicated state, that they take bribery, that employees are punished by having their salaries withheld without any official decision, trade union work is banned.. The ministry has taken no steps in regard to this request, so the employees went on strike. No one paid any heed to the fact that the students were unable to finish their school year. Interests have nothing to do with students.

The opposition's assumption of power and the establishment of the institution of acting deans at the university resulted in the first act which indicated how things would be done in the future.

The acting dean of the Belgrade Faculty of Fine Arts adopted the decision to suspend a number of newly accepted students (11 of them). The decision formulated the dean does not contain elements necessary for a document to be valid legal act. She signed the decision as the dean even though, under the valid regulations, she had not been appointed to that position. The decision contains no explanation, but rather only demonstrates the principle of the self-will of a person who sees herself as the absolute power-holder. The eleven first-year students filed a lawsuit which they won in an administrative procedure, whereby the decision of the newly appointed dean was annulled. Those in charge refuse to return the students to classes, even though they are paying fines - it is not good to ask where this money it taken from. Since it became obvious that at issue was the dean's self-will, there was no other solution but to file a lawsuit for compensating the damage caused by the loss of a school year and for the return of the paid school fee. Since the education minister became involved in the whole affair late and in a unprincipled manner, he had no choice but to adopt a new decision and thus resolve the case. His decision confirmed the dean's previous stands. This decision, formulated in an even worse manner from the standpoint of form, is now also before the Supreme Court. Awaited is being the decision of the highest court in the administrative procedure. The court trial concerning the damage caused to these young people will take place in autumn when a favorable outcome is expected. For the moment, the students are waiting, and the minister, together with the dean, are producing falsehoods and illegalities.

The Helsinki Committee has an attorney on this case, who will tend to legal issues before the court.

f) Health care - minister of health care

This sphere, even though important for the lives of people, is not functioning in accordance with its tasks either. Here too, the numerous years of robbery and unlawfulness have resulted in a total collapse. The lack of medicine and equipment is a usual occurrence. The fact that doctors and other staff members take bribes is no longer strange or unknown to anyone. The highest officials in the health care system have already been arrested under charges of abuse and the acquisition of non-legal gain. Affairs concerning medicines and the directors of hospitals and health centers are creating a bad reputation for the Health Ministry and new mistrust. Due to large pressure by the public and people employed in the health care system, the Serbian Government has formed a Commission which is to file a report on the work of the Ministry and the minister himself. The conduct of the health minister is the result of political divisions and animosities within the victorious coalition. Abusing such a situation, the minister appointed new heads of health institutions, which provoked general dissatisfaction. The fact that he paid no heed to the opinion of employees and the needs of the institutions, and also that he imposed old cadre, did great harm to the health care system; it resulted in strikes, even hunger strikes of the staff of a Belgrade health center. Such acts bring into question the functioning of the already ruined institutions. For ten years now, health institutions have not been keeping abreast of world trends, either scientifically or technologically. The conditions for medical work are increasingly difficult and they boil down to the basic health care. Major robberies in the health care system over the previous years are not being clarified in court proceedings. They include embezzlement and major abuse, while it is as if the work of the new Ministry is creating conditions for the new regrouping of funds and power in this most sensitive segment of the society and human life.

Tošic Bogoljub from Bor complains about the work of health institutions in this town. The accusations concern non-conscientious medical practice and inappropriate treatment. When he informed the public about his problems through the local newspaper, the problems enlarged.

The health minister did not bypass even the most sensitive segment of this sphere. The Drug Rehabilitation Institute in Belgrade also became the target of such activities. The employees and trade unions believe someone has cast an eye on their institution. They have a building in an elite part of Belgrade, as well as approved funds for a project for preventing drug-addiction. Those who have never seen a drug-addict wish to decide on the work of this institution. Actually, in this case as well, the health minister took the decision to appoint a new director, even though the institution had already had a director capable of running the institution and who had already taken measures for its recovery. The imposed solution, apart from being characterized by personal and professional inadequacy, is also contrary to this institution's statute. This decision is before the Supreme Court and its annulment is being awaited. In order to eliminate formal shortcomings, the minister, with the help of his people, is trying to change the Statute in a manner that would directly eliminate the inadequacy of the newly-appointed director. This is the situation only on paper. The employees are preventing the newly appointed director from taking over his post, by preventing, together with the trade unions, his entry into the offices and the handover of the seal and everything else. Because of this, the minister keeps sending his deputies to frighten and threaten them in an effort to gain their obedience. The employed psychiatrists, practitioners, assess the minister's conduct to be violent and arrogant. In their struggle they have addressed all bodies of authority involved in the issue, the media, NGOs and anyone who would be in the position to put an end to the self-will of the new minister.

The game of appropriating what belongs to others is obviously not over, nor have the protagonists of the white mafia completed their work. They are now only compelled to do this indirectly and to include in their ranks new, now suitable personalities from this world.

g.) Discrimination

The attitude of the majority towards everything that is different on the territory of Serbia has in no way changed. The number of visible discriminatory acts is somewhat smaller, but their intensity and forcefulness have a growth trend. The Serbian heterosexual and Orthodox majority has the absolute domination which allows no change. Attempts at introducing religious teaching into schools and the fact that all small religious communities are proclaimed sects point to the tendency of bringing the church, not the religion, the through the front state door. Resulting from the so far visible events is new national discrimination towards persons of the Montenegrin nationality.

Olgica Šarac from Belgrade is employed at the >Ratko Mitrovic

For the moment there are no methods for resolving this situation, since there is no public opinion that would react to such conduct, and there is also no court protection for this problem, or it is at least difficult to constitute it.

No lesser is the intolerance of the environment towards homosexual groups and their members.

The non-tolerance of differences brings groups and the largest number of individuals to the verge of rage, so that one is never certain when such conflicts will escalate. Homosexual groups, encouraged by the changes in Serbia, organize high risk gatherings which usually end unfavorably for them. Of course, this does not mean that one should hide and appease primitivism.

On June 30 this year, homosexual groups held a gathering in an effort to celebrate their holiday. The organizers properly advertised this event and reported it regularly to the police. Prior to the gathering, pro-fascist groups stated that they would not allow such a gathering to take place. There is no need to speak about further disqualification and insults. Young fascists did carry our their threats, so the gathering was not held. At the very beginning, members of homosexual groups were physically attacked, and many even sustained physical injuries. Unfortunately, the police did not react adequately to protect these groups. It would be incorrect to say they were unprepared, but rather they did not have the will overly to interfere. Things were brought to order only when members of the Serbian Interior Ministry were physically attacked.

Members of these groups have been greatly intimidated and, after these events, they requested the assistance of other NGOs. The Helsinki Committee offered the necessary legal assistance. It frequently maintains such contacts and always when this is requested of it. No criminal charges have yet been filed, since large fear has been instilled, which was precisely the intention of the perpetrators of these offenses. Especially emphasized was the bad attitude of the environment, the citizens who were present at that place in the center of Belgrade and who encouraged the offenders either peacefully or by cheering.

h.) Welfare considerations

A broad sphere, encompassing the largest part of the population, but also groups that have been brought to the verge of poverty. The forms of abuse are various, the state's possibilities are practically non-existent, while aspirants towards this type of protection are increasingly numerous. Unemployment is on the rise, but expected is also a new layoff trend of those formally working, on so-called compulsory vacations. Social institutions are working with limited possibilities. All sorts of things come to people's minds so as to facilitate, at least mentally, their unbearable position. The price of electricity increased several-fold which





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