News 08 Apr 13

Serbia Steps Up Punishment for Child Abusers

The Serbian parliament adopted the so-called ‘Marija’s law’ that will bring in tougher measures against convicted paedophiles and rapists after a high-profile child rape case.

Nemanja Cabric
BIRN, Tanjug
Belgrade

The majority of Serbia’s 173 MPs voted on Monday for the legislation that imposes harsher sanctions on people convicted of sexual abuse.

The legislation was first proposed by the father of an eight-year-old girl called Marija who was raped and murdered three years ago in the village of Stari Ledinci near Novi Sad.

The brutality of the attack and the public outrage it caused motivated lawmakers to adopt the new measures.

In a case that shocked the local community, the rapist, Mladen Ogulinac, abducted the child from her home while her parents were away, gagged her with a rag, raped her in the courtyard of his house, murdered her and left her corpse under a pile of leaves.

Ogulinac died of a heart attack in his prison cell in Belgrade in 2010.

Under the new legislation, convictions for paedophilia and the rape of minors will no longer expire, perpetrators will be monitored for 20 years after they serve their sentence, and a permanent register of paedophiles and their DNA data will be set up.

Data from the register can be disclosed to courts, the public prosecutor and the police in connection with relevant criminal proceedings.

The state, private companies and other legal entities will be able to find out whether a candidate for employment is on the register of sexual offenders before giving them a job.

‘Marija’s law’ also prevents courts from reducing sentences for convicted paedophiles and rapists or granting them parole.

Convicted paedophiles and rapists will also have to maintain contact with police and other professional institutions, and they will be banned from places where minors gather, such as schools and kindergartens.  

The law will apply to people convicted of raping juveniles or having sexual intercourse with a child or helpless person, abusing their authority for sexual purposes, committing illegal sexual acts, procuring and facilitating sexual relations, mediating in prostitution, displaying, acquiring and possessing pornographic material and using minors for pornography.

People convicted of such crimes will be barred from employment in the public sector and from working with minors for at least 20 years.

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