News 27 May 13

Serbia’s Unused Lustration Law Set to Expire

Serbian lustration legislation aimed at exposing past human rights violations has never been implemented and is due to expire soon, despite efforts by some lawmakers to extend it.

Marija Ristic

The lustration legislation which the Serbian government adopted in 2003 is set to expire at the beginning of June because of the lack of political will among some lawmakers from the country’s ruling bloc to renew it.

The Vojvodina Social Democrats, LSV, a political party with representatives in parliament, filed an initiative last week to prolong the law for the next ten years.

“The LSV insists on the prolongation and urgent implementation of the law, because otherwise, all those who beat, killed, expelled, arrested and drove non-Serbs from Vojvodina in the 1990s will evade justice,” LSV party member Bojan Kostres said.

In order for the parliament to prolong the law, a majority of lawmakers, including the ruling Socialists and Progressives, would need to vote in favour.

The Socialist Party of Serbia, once led by Slobodan Milosevic and now by Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, said that it does not plan to vote for the extension of the law because “many years have passed and now it would lead to pure revanchism”.

The Progressive Party, which emerged from Serbian Radical Party led by Vojislav Seselj, who is on trial at the Hague Tribunal for alleged war crimes, said that it was still too early to decide how it will vote.

Another parliamentary group, the Association of Vojvodina Hungarians, has said that despite the fact the law has not been implemented, it is still not late to deal with misdeeds committed in the past.

Howver, despite being adopted by parliament ten years ago, the current law has not even been implemented.

“This law is very important. But if you look at these ten years, you will see that it was not a serious law because there was no sign that it has ever been implemented in any area,” Milan Antonijevic, director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights, told BIRN.

“There were no mechanisms to implement the law, but also there was no political will in Serbia to really deal with and speak about the violation of human rights in the past,” Antonijevic added.

Beside Serbia, Macedonia is the only country in the former Yugoslavia, where a lustration law has been adopted following the break-up of the former state.

The Macedonian law, aimed at exposing secret police collaborators during Communist rule and afterwards, was adopted in June 2011.

However, the Macedonian legislation has been dogged by controversy, with critics accusing the authorities of misusing it to discredit prominent intellectuals known for their criticism of government policies.

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