Declaration of the obligation of the state of Serbia...
Drafted by: Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights; Center for Cultural Decontamination; Civic Initiatives; Helsinki Commission for Human Rights in Serbia; Belgrade Circle; Women in Black; Humanitarian Law Center; Youth Initiative for Human Rights.
On the strength of Article 72, paras. 1.1, 1.2, 1.6, 2, and Article 73, para. 1.2 of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, and Articles 130 and 156 of the Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia,
The People’s Assembly of the Republic of Serbia adopts the following:
DECLARATION OF THE OBLIGATION OF THE STATE OF SERBIA TO UNDERTAKE ALL MEASURES AIMED AT PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF THE VICTIMS OF WAR CRIMES, PARTICULARLY THE RIGHTS OF THE VICTIMS OF THE SREBRENICA GENOCIDE
The National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia:
– Takes into account that Serbia-Montenegro is a fully-fledged member of the UN and the Council of Europe, while the Republic of Serbia is a member-state of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro;
– Bears in mind that Serbia-Montenegro has ratified the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide;
– Emphasizes that genocide is a crime under international law, contrary to the spirit and goals of the United Nations and condemned by the civilized world;
– Recollects that, throughout history, genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, has inflicted immeasurable harm to the whole of mankind, and that international law binds all contacting parties of the Convention to prevent it and punish, if committed;
– Recognizes that there should be no impunity for genocide, for the planning of genocide, for its propagation either indirectly or in public, for any genocide attempt, or for any complicity in genocide;
– Recognizes that any denial or support of genocide has the character of complicity in the crime, given that prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide mirror the conscience of mankind;
– Bears in mind crucial and widely recognized national interests such as:
The building up and development of a democratic society and the rule of law in the Republic of Serbia, conducive to full respect of human rights;
The maintenance and advancement of regional stability and cooperation in the territory of the former-Yugoslavia and southeastern Europe; and
The Republic of Serbia’s move towards European integration and its goal to join the European Union as a member-state of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro;
– Recognizes the efforts made by relevant international institutions, governmental and non-governmental organizations, with a view to full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague;
– Recognizes that major steps have been taken towards creating favourable conditions for instituting war crime trials before domestic courts;
– Insists on the principles and goals enshrined in the UN Charter, primarily on the respect for human rights and security; and
– Emphasizes the basic tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, stating, among other things, that:
The recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world;
The disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts, which have outraged the conscience of mankind;
It is essential that human rights should be protected by the rule of law;
It is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations;
It is essential to achieve a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations, to whose end every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, by teaching and education, shall strive; and, by progressive measures, both national and international, shall promote respect for these rights and freedoms, in order to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of member-states themselves, and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.
Therefore, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia CONSIDERS that, in keeping with international documents that have been integrated into Serbia-Montenegro’s legal system, and in accordance with the Constitutional Charter and Serbia-Montenegro’s legislation, in other words, the legislation of the Republic of Serbia, governmental bodies of the Republic of Serbia are obliged to take all available measures aimed at facing up to genocide and war crimes, and assisting the rehabilitation of the victims of genocide and their families.
The aforementioned obligation of the governmental bodies of the Republic of Serbia derives from:
1. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly, which declares in its preamble that:
“In accordance with the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, the recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,” and rules that:
1) The freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
2) The exercise of the right to hold opinions and the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may, therefore, be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary for the respect of the rights or reputations of others and for the protection of national security or of public order, or of public health and morals.
3) Any propaganda of war shall be prohibited by law.
4) Any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence shall be prohibited by law.
2. The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which, as a component of domestic legal systems, rules that:
1) Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law, and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health, or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others;
2) The exercise of all freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions, or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, territorial integrity, or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.
3. The Constitutional Charter of Serbia and Montenegro emphasizes that:
1) The Charter on Human and Minority Rights forms a component part of the Constitutional Charter, and, therefore, that the directives of international covenants on human and minority rights are applied directly;
2) The ratified international agreements and generally recognized provisions of international law have primacy over the legislation of Serbia-Montenegro, and the legislation of each of the two member-states.
4. The Charter on Human and Minority Rights and Civil Liberties rules, among other things, that:
1) The human and minority rights guaranteed under this Charter shall be interpreted in the manner that promotes the values of an open and free democratic society and in accordance with the valid international guarantees for human and minority rights and practices of international bodies supervising their implementation.
2) The freedom to express one’s religion or conviction may be limited by law if this is necessary for the purpose of protecting public security, health, morality, and rights of other persons.
3) The right to freedom of expression may be restricted by law, if it is necessary for protecting the rights and reputation of other people, preserving the authority and impartiality of courts, national security, public health or morality, or public security.
4) The freedom of assembly may be restricted by the laws of member-states if it is necessary for reasons of public security, public health and morality, national security, or protection of the rights of other persons.
5) The right to free organization may be restricted by the laws of member-states if it is necessary for reasons of public security, public health and morality, national security, or protection of the rights of other persons.
6) Organizations, the activities of which are aimed at forcible destruction of the constitutional system, revocation of guaranteed human rights, or provoking racial, ethnic, or religious hatred, may be banned by decision of a competent court.
7) Any provocation of and incitement to ethnic, religious, and other inequality, as well as provocation and stirring up of national, ethnic, racial, religious, and other hatred and intolerance, shall be prohibited and punishable.
8) The State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, and the member-states, shall encourage the spirit of tolerance and multicultural dialogue, and shall apply efficacious measures towards upgrading mutual respect and understanding and cooperation among all people living on its territory, irrespective of their ethnic, cultural, linguistic, or religious identity.
5. Serbia-Montenegro’s Law on National Minorities, which prohibits any form of national, ethnic, racial, or linguistic discrimination against persons belonging to national minorities, and guarantees that the rights provided under it shall not be used for the purpose of attaining goals that are contrary to the principles of international law or that threaten public security and morals, and people’s health.
In accordance with the aforementioned international documents, the Constitutional Charter, and the Charter on Human and Minority Rights and Civil Liberties,
The National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia CONCLUDES as follows:
– Governmental bodies of the Republic of Serbia shall urgently take all available measures so as to secure full implementation of the directives of international documents and domestic legislation referred to in the paragraphs above;
– The process of building up a democratic and multi-ethnic society cannot be based on the denial of the crimes allegedly committed on our behalf;
– Respect for human rights implies due respect for victims;
– Fair assessment of crimes implies facing up to the past, which is the cornerstone of a democratic future;
– Genocide shall not be glorified, negated, nor be allowed to sink into oblivion;
– Facing up to the past implies institutionalization, as well as mechanisms and processes that Serbia is obliged to adopt and apply.
THE REPUBLIC OF SERBIA COMMITS ITSELF
– To expose and punish any ideological justification of crime;
– To open up avenues for citizens to renounce the compromised value judgments, and to ban the instruments, actors, and consequences of massive violence from public and social life;
– To secure discontinuity with the adverse policies of the past by adopting regulations that will constitute a legal framework for abandoning the policy of crime, affirming an adequate value system and reviving the lost sense of justice;
– To encourage a political dialogue that shall not open the door to legal institutionalization of crime or question the sum and substance of proper and fair conduct;
– To take all measures necessary in order to firmly place the issue of responsibility for crimes on the social and political agenda;
– To prevent the acceptance of the consequences of crime by denying that any justification of genocide constitutes a legitimate political stand;
– To acknowledge the judgments that have clearly defined the character of the crime of genocide committed in Srebrenica;
– To candidly address the victims and their families, and to confess that the crime of genocide has been committed on our behalf, and thus legitimately and morally demonstrate that it distances itself from the crime. Victims are entitled to this and rightfully expect us to confess.
Published 8 July 2005
Original in English
First published by Eurozine
Contributed by Belgrade Circle Journal © Belgrade Circle Journal / EurozinePDF/PRINT