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Yesterday, another woman and two underage girls were killed by the perpetrator, who, according to the media, was released from prison only a few days before, where he had been serving a sentence related to acts of domestic violence. It could be learned from the media that, in addition to the history of domestic violence, he also had a history of criminal behaviour, that he was once a member of the police, and that ten years ago he threatened the prosecutor with murder by planting a replica bomb in his yard. All of the above are indicators that could have been warning signs of high immediate danger of continuing violence and severe consequences. We ask whether the institutional system has again failed in the assessment of security risks and measures aimed at protection?

The Autonomous Women's Centre has repeatedly pointed out the importance of (re) assessing security risks, imposing measures that are in line with the assessed risk and can effectively eliminate it, as well as the lack of mechanisms for monitoring the imposed measures. We ask what protection measures the Coordination and Cooperation Group included in the individual plan of protection and support in order to help the victim and children, how their execution was monitored and whether the victim was invited to participate in its development. Was a security reassessment performed during the release? Will (independent) institutions and competent ministries finally, on their own initiative (without anyone suggesting it), initiate a procedure of (internal) control over the actions of competent institutions in order to determine whether any omissions were committed and inform the public about it? If those institutions failed, will those responsible be sanctioned? When will the institutions in Serbia start acting in accordance with the principle of due diligence, apply the obligations assumed by international agreements and their own laws?

While we are waiting for the answers to these questions and the reaction of the authorities, the environment in which we live sends out a devastating and alarming picture:
  • delayed reactions of a system that reacts sluggishly and lukewarmly, only when it feels enormous pressure from the public and the media or when we have fatalities;
  • a system in which professionals in key positions for protection against violence blame victims for the violence they have experienced, committing secondary victimization posthumously and grossly insulting their family members, without the slightest sympathy for their loss and pain;
  • in which high-ranking officials of political parties accuse women's organizations that point to problems in the system of using domestic violence as a pretext in order to destroy the traditional family and of "fooling the public with nonsense."

The mirror of that image is more than 23,000 tweets posted on social networks under #I did not report. We will never know the number of those who have not used this hashtag and will not use it publicly.

Announcements of the tightening of criminal sanctions, in addresses from the highest political positions in response to this systemic picture, indicate a complete lack of understanding of the characteristics of the phenomenon and the inability to change it. The Republic of Serbia has a relatively good legal framework for the protection of women from domestic violence; however, the problem is that it is not being applied and that omissions are being repeated, which women and children pay with their lives. We insist on the application of existing laws and penal policy, instead of the tendency to increase the penalties, which again, will not be applied.

Simply put, we are witnessing the normalization of institutional violence[1] which means the abolition of all actions and omissions of government and civil servants aimed at delaying, obstructing or preventing access to relevant public services, protection or realization of victims' rights.

Let's punish the irresponsible behaviour of institutions!

[1] European Parliament resolution of 6 October 2021 on the consequences for partners in intimate partnership and guardianship rights for women and children (2019/2166 (INI)). 29.12.2021.