Serbia & the EU

442px-Serbia_EU_(without_Kosovo)Serbia began its formal European Union accession talks in January 2014.  Justice sector reform is the first order of business.  This presents a unique opportunity to push for meaningful reform within Serbian institutions.  It also presents a unique opportunity to push for unresolved cases to be brought to trial and closure.

through accesssionThe Humanitarian Law Center in Belgrade is publishing a fantastic newsletter on the role of transitional justice in Serbia’s EU accession talks.  Please visit their site for periodic updates.

Also stay tuned to BytyqiBrothers.org for more posts and links on the progress of Serbia’s EU accession talks, reforms within Serbian justice institutions, transitional justice processes, and how the Bytyqi Brothers case can both contribute to and benefit from these processes.

* UPDATE: Read Amnesty International’s report, Serbia, Ending Impunity for Crimes Under International Law, which offers recommendations to the European Union to address the shortcomings within Serbian prosecutorial and judicial systems that have resulted in impunity for international crimes committed during the 1990’s.  The Bytyqi case is cited on pages 9, 12, and 25-26, although many of the issues raised throughout the report are applicable to the Bytyqi case.

* UPDATE: Read the European Commission Screening Reports on Chapter 23 & Chapter 24 (regarding justice-sector reform). The Chapter 23 report, in particular, calls on Serbia to improve its record of investigations and prosecutions against high-level suspects in war crimes cases. See also the October 2014 summary Progress Report.

* UPDATE: Read the European Commission’s 2015 Progress Report for Serbia.  The relevant paragraph reads:

“Despite consistent efforts by the war crimes jurisdictions, the number of investigations against high-level officers has remained low, and courts have continued to pass lenient sentences. To maintain the quality of trials, measures should be put in place to preserve the extensive judicial experience acquired in processing these complex cases. Only a few victims of war crimes have access to effective compensation under the current legal framework. No concrete steps have been taken to address the serious weaknesses in the witness protection system. Political pressure undermining the work of the War Crimes Prosecution Office is an issue of
concern. Serbia needs to adopt and implement an overarching national strategy for domestic handling of war crimes, backed by adequate resources. A dedicated prosecution strategy is also needed.”

* UPDATE: EU officials have said that the first chapters of Serbia’s accession process will open in December 2015.  These will include Chapters 32 (Financial Controls) and 35 (Pristinia-Belgrade Dialogue).  Chapters 23 and 24 (Justice and Rights, including War Crimes) are slated to open in the new year.