We, the undersigned,
Recalling that all Serbian authorities are under the obligation to respect the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and other ratified international treaties, as well as rules of international customary law prohibiting torture and inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment in all circumstances.
Noting the well-established view expressed by the European Court of Human Rights in its case-law that Contracting States, in which a sentence of life imprisonment may be imposed, are under the obligation to envisage a dedicated mechanism for reviewing, at least 25 years after the life prisoner began serving the sentence, whether any changes in the life prisoner are so significant, and such progress towards rehabilitation has been made in the course of the sentence, as to mean that continued detention can no longer be justified on legitimate penological grounds and that the absence of such a mechanism amounts to a violation of Article 3 of the ECHR prohibiting inhuman and degrading punishment.
Noting the serious reservations the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment expressed about the very concept according to which life prisoners, once they are sentenced, are considered once and for all as a permanent threat to the community, and the recommendation of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers that the law should provide all convicted prisoners, including life prisoners, with the possibility of conditional release.
Recalling that the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court provides for the mandatory review of a life sentence after twenty-five years to determine whether it should be reduced and subsequent periodic reviews if the court determines in its initial review that it is not appropriate to reduce the sentence.
Given that criminal law penalties must be adequate for the realisation of all the proclaimed goals of punishment, including the rehabilitation of prisoners and influencing them not to commit crimes in the future.
Holding that the existing pardon procedure in the Republic of Serbia cannot be considered a satisfactory mechanism for reviewing whether life imprisonment is justified on legitimate penological grounds, due to the character of the office of the Serbian President, absence of substantive legal grounds for pardon providing the President with unlimited discretion, the prisoners’ inability to contest the President’s decisions not to pardon them and for other reasons.
Without diminishing the particular gravity of violent crimes against children and the State’s obligation to take measures to prevent them.
Expressing dissatisfaction with the absence of a satisfactory explanation of the initiated amendments of criminal law and the fact that a public debate on them has not been envisaged.
We agree, at the very least, that the provision prohibiting conditional release of life prisoners in the Preliminary Draft Amendments to the Criminal Code, published by the Justice Ministry on 22 April 2019, needs to be deleted.
7 May 2019
Members of International Human Rights Protection Bodies and Associates
- Dr Dragoljub Popović, former European Court of Human Rights judge, lawyer
- Dr Nevena Vučković Šahović, former member of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and Union University Law School Professor
- Miloš Janković, former member of the Sub-Committee on Prevention of Torture, former Deputy Protector of Citizens and Chair of the National Preventive Mechanism
- Dr Ivan Janković, former member of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, retired lawyer
- Dr Đorđe Alempijevic, member of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and Belgrade University Medical School Professor
- Dr Vidan Hadži-Vidanović, former European Court of Human Rights lawyer
- Dr Đorđe Ignjatović, Belgrade University Law School
- Dr Goran P. Ilić, Belgrade University Law School
- Dr Nataša Mrvić Petrović, Comparative Law Institute Senior Research Associate
- Dr Slađana Jovanović, Union University Law School
- Dr Vanja Bajović, Belgrade University Law School
- Dr Ivan Đokić, Belgrade University Law School
- Dr Маrko Milanović, Nottingham University School of Law
- Dr Vladimir Vodinelić, Union University Law School
- Dr Vesna Rakić-Vodinelić, Union University Law School
- Dr Marija Draškić, Belgrade University Law School
- Dr Dragor Hiber, Belgrade University Law School
- Dr Vesna Petrović, Union University Law School
- Dr Jasminka Hasanbegović, Belgrade University Law School
- Dr Violeta Beširević, Union University Law School
- Dr Bogoljub Milosavljević, Union University Law School
- Dr Tatjana Papić, Union University Law School
- Dr Tanasije Marinković, Belgrade University Law School
- Dr Miodrag Jovanović, Belgrade University Law School
- Dr Ivana Krstić, Belgrade University Law School
- Dr Milena Đorđević, Belgrade University Law School
- Dr Goran Dajović, Belgrade University Law School
- Dr Bojan Spaić, Belgrade University Law School
- Dr Jelena Jerinić, Union University Law School
- Dr Jelena Simić, Union University Law School
- Dr Jelena Arsić, Union University Law School
- Dr Darko Dimovski, Niš University Law School
- Dr Nikola Petrušić, Niš University Law School
- Dr Veljko Turanjanin, Kragujevac University Law School
- Dr Zoran Ilić, Special Education and Rehabilitation College
- Dr Đurađ Stakić, Penn State University
- Dr Marina Stakić, Strayer University
- Dr Slađana Dragišić Labaš, Belgrade University College of Philosophy
- Dr Milana Ljubičić, Belgrade University College of Philosophy
- Dr Dejan Pavlović, Belgrade University College of Political Sciences
- Dr Darko Simović, University of Criminal Investigation and Police Studies
- Dr Radomir Zekavica, University of Criminal Investigation and Police Studies
- Dr Emir Đorđević, Novi Pazar State University
- Nikola Kovačević, Union University Law School (graduate student instructor)
Judges, Public Prosecutors and Deputy Public Prosecutors
- Vida Petrović Škero, former Supreme Court President
- Radmila Dragičević Dičić, Supreme Court of Cassation judge
- Dragana Boljević, Belgrade Appeals Court judge
- Omer Hadžiomerović, Belgrade Appeals Court judge
- Radovan Lazić, Deputy Appeal Public Prosecutor in Novi Sad, member of the State Prosecutorial Council and Chairman of the Management Board of the Association of Public Prosecutors and Deputy Public Prosecutors of Serbia
- Dragoljub Đorđević, Belgrade
- Slobodan Beljanski, Novi Sad
- Borivoje Borović, Belgrade
- Zora Dobričanin Nikodinović, Belgrade
- Božo Prelević, Belgrade
- Ana Trkulja, Belgrade
- Dr Katarina Golubović, Belgrade
- Kristina Todorović, Belgrade
- Natalija Šolić, Belgrade
- Milena Vasić, Belgrade
- Viktor Juhas Đurić, Subotica
- Marija Milovanović, Belgrade
- Milan Marković, Pančevo
- Jovana Đorđević Sijerić, Belgrade
- Tatjana Đorđević, Belgrade
- Vladimir M. Gajić, Belgrade
- Jovica Đ. Todorović, Belgrade
- Slobodan Ružić, Belgrade
- Sead Spahović, Belgrade
- Uroš Tešmanović, Belgrade
- Miloš Pavlović, Belgrade
- Predrag Vasović, Belgrade
- Aleksandra Komlen Vukajlović, Belgrade
- Aleksandar Olenik, Belgrade
- Ivana Soković, Belgrade
- Аna Pontreli, Belgrade
- Dejana Spasojević-Ivančić, Novi Sad
- Jovan Šutović, Niš
- Mihailo Pavlović, Belgrade
- Ivana Milošević, Belgrade
- Dušan Igrnjatović, Belgrade
- Judges’ Association of Serbia
- Belgrade Centre for Human Rights
- А 11 – Initiative for Economic and Social Rights
- Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights
- Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia
- Civic Initiatives
- Humanitarian Law Center
- Human Rights Committee Niš
- Human Rights Committee Valjevo
- Human Rights Committee Negotin
- Child Rights Centre
- International Aid Network – IAN
- Autonomous Women’s Centre
- Psychosocial Innovation Network – PIN
- Belgrade Centre for Security Policy
- Practical Policy Centre
- Group 484
- Civil Rights Defenders
- Open Society Foundation
 Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia No. 98/06.
 Official Journal of the SFRY No. 7/71.
 Official Journal of Serbia and Montenegro Nos. 9/03, 5/05 and 7/05, and the Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia – International Treaties No. 12/10.
 Official Journal of the SFRY No. 9/91
 European Court of Human Rights (Grand Chamber), Vinter and Others v. the United Kingdom, App Nos.
66069/09, 130/10 and 3896/10, of 9 July 2013, §§ 103-131.
 Actual/Real Life Sentences, CPT (2007) 55.
 Rec (2003) 22.
 Article 110, §§ 3 and 5 of the Rome Statute (Official Journal of the FRY – International Treaties No. 5/01).