Serbia: Government Approves New Law on Domestic Violence

Serbia has enacted a new law on domestic violence that focuses on violence prevention and victim protection. The law represents an effort by Serbia to fulfill its obligations under the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention). Serbia ratified the Istanbul Convention on November 21, 2013. 

According to one Serbian human rights commentator, the new legislation makes some important positive changes to Serbian law, including requiring an assessment of “the victim’s perception of risk and feelings of fear.” This “risk assessment” will be used to determine if urgent measures, such as removing the alleged abuser from the home or a temporary restraining order, are necessary to prevent future violence. In addition, it mandates specialized domestic violence training for judges, prosecutors and police officers and imposes penalties if officials fail to follow the law.

However, the same commentator also criticized the law for failing to address the disparate impact that domestic violence has on women. Additionally, in defining victims and perpetrators, the law focuses on cohabitation and blood relations, excluding intimate partners who don’t live with the victim, leaving many women without protection.

Serbia recently designated May 18th as a Remembrance Day for women who were killed by their partners in an effort to bring attention to the issue of domestic violence.


Compiled from:  Davidovic, Maja, Serbia’s New Domestic Violence Law and the Istanbul Convention: Potential and Challenges, Oxford Human Rights Hub (May 24, 2017).