Humanitarian Law Centre Report: Material Reparations for Human Rights Violations Committed in the Past. Court Practice in the Republic of Serbia

In order to exercise their rights to reparations, citizens of Serbia as well as victims from other post-Yugoslav countries have filed several hundred compensation lawsuits against the Republic of Serbia privately or by proxy through the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC). In addition to court proceedings, several citizens of Serbia have initiated administrative proceedings against the Republic of Serbia in order to be granted the status of civil victims of war as stipulated in the Law on the Rights of Civil Invalids of War.

This Report offers a review of 15 cases in which HLC represented victims and which resulted in court decisions in 2012. There were a total of 18 judgments, 12 of which were negative and six positive, which awarded a total of RSD 1.76 million (approximately 15,000 euro) to victims of human rights abuses. The authors report repeated, highly questionable use of the statute of limitations, arbitrary reliance on some kinds of evidence to the exclusion of others and a tendency to award disproportionately low compensation amounts. The effect is to deny justice to most applicants and to trivialize the harm done to them as a result of official torture and illegal detention.