Legislative Trends and New Developments in Serbia

Last updated 7 August 2009


Domestic violence became a criminal act in 2002, by the adoption of Amendments of the Criminal Law. With the same Amendments, sexual harassment also became criminalized in 2002, but no mechanisms for effective protection or prevention were implemented. The Criminal Code which became effective on January 1st, 2006, (Official Gazette of RS 85/05)diminishes the penalties for a criminal act of domestic violence (compared to the Law from 2002) and excluded sexual harassment. The Law does not recognize stalking as a criminal offense.


The Family Law enacted in 2005 (Official Gazette of RS 18/05) introduces protection measures against domestic violence (Article 198). A broad circle of persons have been named who are to be considered family members, in line with the preceding article (Article 197).The procedure is particularly urgent (Art. 285), the charges do not have to be referred to the accused for obligatory response (Art. 204 par. 2), the court must carry out the proceedings in two scheduled hearings at most (Art. 204, para.3), the first scheduled hearing should be held within 8 days from the day charges are received by the court (Art. 285, par. 2) and a second-instance verdict is to be delivered within 15 days from the day when the charges are referred to the court of second instance (Art. 285, par. 3). Even though the law is good, treatment measures for perpetrators of violence, such as measures of obligatory medical treatment for alcoholism and addiction are lacking, and the accused (the perpetrator) has the possibility to demand the revocation of measures, which is not common in other legislation. The newly-introduced fifth paragraph of Article 194 of the Criminal Code that incriminates domestic violence punishes any violation of protection measures.

On 24 November 2011 the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted the General Protocol on the Procedures and Cooperation of Institutions, Agencies and Organizations in the Cases of Violence against Women in the Family and in Intimate Partner Relationships (the document is available in Serbian at http://www.gendernet.rs/files/dokumenta/Domaci/Opsti_protokol.pdf.)

Although human trafficking was criminalized in 2003, the legislature has introduced some changes in order to fully harmonize the definition of human trafficking with international standards. The Criminal Code makes a clear distinction between the criminal offense of human trafficking and people smuggling (Art. 350). However, an important objection to this legal solution is the reduction of sanctions for an offense against a minor in paragraph 3 of this Article to a minimum of three (3) years imprisonment. Taking into account the need to protect children in particular, as well as the fact that all statistics (according to both government and non-government organizations in the RS) indicate a rising number of identified children who are victims of human trafficking, a conclusion can be drawn this mild penalizing policy is inappropriate.

The Law on Misdemeanors (Official Gazette of the RS 101/05), even though it does not specifically regulate the issue of domestic violence (only breaches of public peace and order), envisages protection measures (Art. 46) such as obligatory medical treatment of alcoholics and drug addicts, and restraining orders to restrict access to the damaged party and venues where the offense had been committed, which can also be used in cases of domestic violence.

From: Voice of difference from Serbia: Alternative report to the CEDAW Committee

For Serbian version, click here.