On 21 May 2019, the Serbian Parliament adopted a set of criminal regulations including amendments to the Criminal Code, amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code, Amendments to the Law on the confiscation of property originating from criminal acts, amendments to the Law on Enforcement of Criminal Sanctions (as well as the Law on Prevention of Corruption).
The most important changes in this legislative intervention were passed through amendments to the Criminal Code that have introduced life imprisonment without conditional release for criminal offences of rape and murder of children, pregnant women and disabled persons.
The introduction of the life imprisonment without the possibility of conditional release was one of the most controversial points in relation to this law. Namely, according to many prominent legal experts, this novelty is contrary to the practice of the European Court of Human Rights and violates Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) while Serbia, as a country signatory to the ECHR, is bound to adhere to this convention according to the Serbian Constitution.
The adopted amendments to the Criminal Code removed the sentence of imprisonment of 30 to 40 years and instead introduced the sentence of life imprisonment for the most serious crimes including the acts of murder of representatives of the highest state authorities, serious acts against the constitutional order and security of Serbia, association to commit crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes against civilian population, war crimes against the wounded and the sick, terrorism (for these offences a convicted person may be released on probation after 27 years of imprisonment, which is not the case with murderers of children and adolescents and pregnant women and disabled persons).
Further, amendments to the Criminal Code also introduced more severe punishment for repeat offenders in cases of abuse and torture, domestic violence, tax evasion, the killing and abuse of animals, preventing an official from performing an official act, attacking an official person on duty, participating in a group that prevents an official from performing an official act and violent behaviour at sporting events.
Lastly, amendments to the Criminal Code introduced a new criminal offence - an attack on attorneys, as requested by the Bar Association of Serbia.
Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter, feel free to contact Nedeljko Velisavljević and Nenad Kovačević.