News 27 Mar 12

Women in Black Win Court Case in Serbia

The state has violated the basic rights of a local NGO, Women in Black, a Serbian court decided on Monday.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade

According to the ruling of the Constitutional Court, by banning the gathering of the Association of Women in Black in 2008, the Serbian authorities have violated their right to freedom of assembly, right to a fair trial within reasonable time and the right to an effective remedy.

On March 8, 2008, without an explanation, the Belgrade police banned the gathering called “One hundred years of battle” organized by the Women in Black, an antimilitarist peace organisation.

During the legal process, police representatives said that “the gathering was banned because at that time a number of sport, cultural and other events were taking place in the Belgrade area.  An informal congregation could have resulted in the endangerment of the property and security of those gathered.”

However, police allowed other civil society organisations such as Safe House and Forum of the Democratic Party Women to gather on March 8 in the centre of Belgrade.

“The decision to ban the gathering of the human rights defenders was an arbitrary decision based on political motives,” says the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights, YUKOM, which represented the association.

The Association of the Women in Black was founded in October 1991 at the start of the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia.  Their aim was to make visible non-violent resistance to militarism, war, sexism and nationalism.

They were especially active during the conflicts in the region in the 1990s, fighting for the victims’ rights and advocating for the truth and reconciliation.

Recently they were in the media spotlight because of their protests against a newly built memorial for the victims of the wars in the 1990s.  

The association claims that the Belgrade authorities, by dedicating the memorial to “both victims and the defenders of the homeland from 1990 to 1999,” had given the victims and perpetrators an equal status.

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