This article is an integral part of the Coalition prEUgovor report on progress of Serbia in Chapters 23 and 24 for the period from November 2015 to April 2016.
Protection of children from violence is steadily declining. The emphasis is primarily on the protection of children as offenders. There are no state statistics on the number of incidents/reports/criminal charges filed against perpetrators of violence against children, which could show the attrition in child abuse cases.
The Third Draft of Action Plan for Chapter 23 is focused rather on the rights of children as offenders than on children as victims of violence. It is of great value to educate professionals on how to conduct interviews with children, but the draft Action Plan does not define the premises and audio-visual equipment for such interviews. Also, there are no state statistics on the number of incidents/reports/criminal charges filed against perpetrators of violence against children, which could show the attrition in child abuse cases. Protection of children from any form of violence does not have priority in prosecution and in court cases. Medical experts prepare their expert reports a few years after the reported abuse and as a lot of time has passed, they cannot confirm with certainty whether the abuse took place or not, leading to prosecutors dropping charges (especially in child sexual abuse cases).
The cases, in which the Autonomous Women’s Centre provides free legal aid, show the following patterns/attrition in child abuse cases:
- The Deputy Prosecutor at the Belgrade Prosecution Office intended to make settlement for a suspended sentence with a father who severely beat up his son, even though the Criminal Code stipulates that penalty cannot be reduced to a suspended sentence;
- The Higher Prosecution Office in Belgrade did not notify the mother of a molested child that her appeal against the decision of the basic deputy prosecutor not to prosecute was rejected four months ago;
- The case for the issuance of protection measures with regard to a child victim lasted 18 months before the first instance court. Since the claim was partially accepted, the mother filed an appeal;
- After filing petition for the urgency of proceedings, the Deputy Prosecutor in Belgrade, after almost a year and a half after receiving criminal charges from the welfare service about sexual abuse of a child, determined by court experts in family law proceedings, conducted an interview with the child’s mother. The Deputy Prosecutor commented that the case was weak.
The TV show ‘’DNA’’, created to establish paternity for children who do not know who their father is, continues to violate children’s rights by exposing children’s names and faces, and creating even bigger stigma for them. The most recent case in which a mother of children was beaten to death after the show was broadcast, demonstrated that the children were present while the abuse before the cameras was happening. Although CSOs filled an initiative to close this TV show to relevant authorities and to punish the responsible ones, the show is still broadcast once a week.