4 June 2001 – The Belgrade Center for Human rights is pleased to learn that, on the 22nd of June 2001, the Federal Assembly approved an Act concerning the ratification of the First and Second Optional Protocols of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR). The First Optional Protocol of the CCPR (1966) allows individuals to complain to the Human Rights Committee about violations of a right guaranteed by the Covenant, committed by States party to the Covenant. The Second Optional Protocol forbids party States from using the death penalty and obliges them to remove this penalty from their laws. Ratification of the First Optional Protocol of the CCPR allows Yugoslav citizens and individuals under Yugoslavia’s jurisdiction who have exhausted all possible domestic legal options to an international body, the UN Human Rights Committee, for protection of their rights under the Covenant. This means that decisions by domestic courts concerning human rights violations are no longer final.
By ratifying the Second Optional Protocol of the CCPR (1989) FR Yugoslavia formally commits itself to ending the use of the death penalty. Therefore all internal laws and statutes must be altered to comply with this international agreement, which now represents a part of the internal legal order of FR Yugoslavia (Constitution of FRY, article 16, para. 2).
The FRY Constitution already forbids the use of the death penalty, but only for crimes covered by Federal law (Constitution of FRY, article 21 para. 2). However, the Constitutions of Serbia and Montenegro allow the use of the death penalty “only for the most serious criminal acts” (Constitution of Serbia, article 14 para. 2; Constitution of Montenegro, article 21 para. 2).
The Belgrade Center for Human Rights hopes that all domestic laws and statutes will now be modified to conform with the obligations that FR Yugoslavia has accepted by ratifying the Second Optional Protocol of the CCPR.
This recent ratification of the First and Second Optional Protocols of the CCPR certainly demonstrates FR Yugoslavia’s willingness to bring domestic law into line with international standards of human rights protection.