CINS STORY: Domestic violence in Serbia: lenient punishments, weekends out, and violence again

Written by: Milica Stojanović (CINS)

Illustrated by: Đorđe Matić

Olga Lovrić, a woman who had endured domestic violence for years was killed in July 2017, at the Centre for social work in broad daylight. She was killed by her husband Milan Lovrić, twice convicted perpetrator on probation.

The two of them had been in divorce proceedings, while Milan had been released from prison three months earlier, where he was held because of violence against his eldest son.

While in prison, he was granted weekends out, when he would ring Olga by phone, while once he also went to the flat in which she was living with the children. In April 2017, he was released on probation. In May of the same year, Lovrić threatened Olga again, and she reported all these instances to the police.

Weekends out and other extra-institutional benefits Lovrić was granted at the District prison in Belgrade as, in the opinion of competent parties, he had been maintaining his working habits and correcting “his attitude towards the perpetrated criminal offence”.

The District prison, in which in the past two years as many as 70 individuals were serving their sentences for domestic violence, did not file Center for Investigative Journalism of Serbia (CINS) data on the benefits enjoyed by these inmates, justifying this by protection of personal data. 

According to the data from the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia, penal policy against perpetrators of this criminal offence is very lenient: about every third violator is convicted to a prison sentence which range between the legal minimum of three months to six months of imprisonment. 

Even with such lenient punishments, convicted violators are brought closer to freedom - in addition to weekends out and downtown outings, some of them are released on probation having served two thirds of their sentence. 

Milena Vasić, lawyer from Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights YUCOM, said for CINS that lenient penal policy to convicts for domestic violence speaks about normalization of violence in the society.

“Domestic violence as a social issue is not approached systematically, but rather ad hoc, as a rule from one side only, and only when it has already happened”, said Vasić and explained that it is even more important to resolve the economic position of victims, so that they do not depend on potential violators.

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