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Three years into the implementation of the Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence, we do not have an official, unified report of state bodies on the effectiveness of its implementation, because no sessions of the government Council for the Suppression of Domestic Violence have been held since July 2018. In addition, no central records on cases of domestic violence (in electronic form) have been established, which would unite the data from the competent state bodies.

Based on the monthly collected data, Autonomous Women’s Center prepares periodic reports on the implementation of the Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence. What do the data for 2019 say?

The police registered 28,214 incidents of domestic violence, and assessed the risk and issued emergency measure orders in 70.6% of cases. Measures to remove the perpetrator from the apartment were imposed in 45% of cases, and both emergency measures (removal and ban on contact and approach to the victim) in similar percentage. Prosecutor’s offices proposed 97.3% of police emergency measures to be extended to 30 days, which were most often adopted by the courts. The violence was repeated by 6,002 perpetrators, almost one in three to whom emergency measures were imposed. Emergency measures were violated by 1,809 perpetrators. In 85.3% of cases, violence is committed by men, and the victims are female in 74%. Only 5% of emergency measures include child protection.

At the meetings of the groups for coordination and cooperation, as many as 51,911 cases of domestic violence were examined, which is a quarter more than the previous year. The data shows that 18,648 individual plans for protection and support to victims were developed, which is by 42% more than in the previous year, and still only 72% of the total number of newly reported cases of violence in 2019. Victims rarely participated in these meetings, only 1% (194 victims), twice less than the previous year.

What can be concluded based on data from 2019? There is no doubt that the workload of engaged specialized professionals in the police, prosecutor's offices and centers for social work was significantly increased. At the same time, the question of the quality of assessments and decisions in such circumstances remains open. There is an obvious lack of time and capacity to develop individual protection and support plans for victims, their monitoring and revision during the year, and there is no data on the content of these plans, or on their effects. Are those who repeat violence more severely sanctioned, or are they (again) imposed only emergency measures? Victims, contrary to the legal possibility, do not participate in planning their own safety and recovery. Children remain “invisible victims” of domestic violence, when they experience it and especially when they witness it.

In January 2020, Serbia received the first (basic) report on the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence. While it is stated that great progress has been made in the legislation, significant shortcomings in the application of the law are noted, as well as a serious lack of resources (employees, trained staff, services and finances), which significantly affects the quality of actions in individual cases.

All of the above should be the subject of analysis and decision-making by the Council for the Suppression of Domestic Violence, which does not meet and whose reports we have not seen. Victims of domestic violence cannot wait - so we demand full implementation of the law and visible effects for the safety and recovery of victims!

Autonomous Women’s Center

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