CoE Commissioner warns Tijana’s Law not in line with human rights convention

NEWS 15.05.2019 11:11
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Source: N1

A European human rights official warned on Wednesday that amendments to the Serbian Criminal Code introduced by Justice Minister Nela Kuburovic were not in line with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Council of Europe (CoE) Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic said in a letter to Kuburovic that the draft law introducing life imprisonment had to allow for conditional release and a review of the sentence.

The draft law was submitted to parliament on Tuesday. The so-called Tijana’s Law was drawn up following an initiative by the Tijana Juric Foundation and the Justice Ministry. The initiative was launched by the father of Tijana Juric who was abducted and murdered in 2014. The killer was sentenced to the maximum 40 years in prison.

“The European Convention on Human Rights, which Serbia is bound by as a CoE member state, does not prohibit the imposition of a life sentence on those convicted of especially serious crimes, such as murder. However, for a life sentence to be compatible with Article 3 ECHR, it must be reducible, or in other words, there has to be a prospect of the prisoner’s release and the possibility of a review of the sentence,” the letter said.

“If the draft bill is adopted as it stands, such life sentences could only be reduced by presidential clemency. In this context, I have noted concerns expressed by national legal experts that presidential clemency in Serbian legislation may fall short of guaranteeing the prospect of release for the prisoner and the possibility of a review of the sentence,” Mijatovic wrote.

The Commissioner also raised concerns about the Serbian authorities’ decision not to hold a public debate regarding the draft legislation and encouraged them to do so. “The Serbian authorities should ensure that this or any future legislative initiative of this kind is fully compliant with the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights”, the Commissioner says.