MINELRES: ERRC: UN Committee finds Serbia Violated Torture Convention

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Mon Jul 27 16:42:06 2009

Original sender: European Roma Rights Centre <errc@errc.org>

UN Committee Finds Serbia Violated Torture Convention 
Geneva, 24 July 2009: The UN Committee Against Torture (the Committee)
has considered the case of violence and racial abuse against a Romani
man and as of 8 May 2009 issued a decision finding Serbia to have been
in violation of a number of provisions of the Convention against Torture
and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). 

Besim Osmani was jointly represented by the Humanitarian Law Center
(HLC), Minority Rights Center (MRC) and the European Roma Rights Centre
(ERRC) in a complaint submitted to the Committee in December 2004,
relating to an incident on 8 June 2000. Mr Osmani was beaten and
verbally abused by what were believed to be plain-clothed police
officers, in the presence of uniformed officers during a forced eviction
and demolition operation at the ”Antena” settlement in New Belgrade, the
home of some 107 Roma. During the incident Mr Osmani’s four-year-old son
was also hit and, following his eviction and the destruction of his
property, Mr Osmani was forced to live in the basement of his place of
work with his wife and three young children. 

The Committee found that Mr Osmani had been subjected to “cruel, inhuman
or degrading treatment or punishment,” noting in its decision that the
“infliction of physical and mental suffering [was] aggravated by the
complainant’s particular vulnerability, due to his Roma ethnic origin
and unavoidable association with a minority historically subjected to
discrimination and prejudice.” Whether or not plain-clothes policemen
abused Mr Osmani, the Committee pointed to the fact that “the State
party’s authorities who witnessed the events and failed to intervene to
prevent the abuse have at the very least ‘consented or acquiesced’ to
it.” Serbia was found to be in violation of Article 16 of CAT. 

Mr Osmani and several other people at the scene made detailed statements
about the incident and the identity of those who used violence and
verbal abuse. With the assistance of the HLC, Mr Osmani tried to assert
his rights within the Serbian criminal justice system, but to no avail.
Against this background, the Committee found that Serbia was in breach
of its obligations: To bring a criminal investigation (Article 12); to
ensure that Mr Osmani had the right to complain to, and to have his case
promptly and impartially investigated by, the competent authorities
(Article 13); and to enable Mr Osmani to obtain redress and to provide
him with fair and adequate compensation (Article 16). 

The Committee urged Serbia to: 

- Conduct a proper investigation into the acts that occurred on 8 June
- Prosecute and punish the persons responsible for those acts; 
- Provide Mr Osmani with redress, including fair and adequate
compensation; and 
- Inform the Committee within 90 days of the relevant steps it has

The HLC, the MRC and the ERRC contacted the Ministry of Human and
Minority Rights, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of
Justice asking that these matters be addressed. 

For the full text of the Committee’s decision, CAT/C/42/D/261/2005, see: 

Part 1  
Part 2  

For further background information on this case, see: 

For the Serbian version of this press release, see: 

The letters to Serbian ministers are available at: 

Letter to the Minister of Justice of Serbia (in English) 
Letter to the Minister of Justice of Serbia (in Serbian) 

Letter to the Minister of Human and Minority Rights of Serbia (in
Letter to the Minister of Human and Minority Rights of Serbia (in
Serbian) http://www.errc.org/db/04/0B/m0000040B.pdf

Letter to the Minister of Interior of Serbia (in English) 
Letter to the Minister of Interior of Serbia (in Serbian) 

For more information please contact: 

Victoria Vasey, ERRC Legal Adviser 
victoria.vasey@errc.org, +36.1.413.2200 

Andrea Colak, MRC Executive Director 
andrea.colak@mrc.org.rs, +381 11 303 7902, 2632 901 

Sandra Orlovic, HLC Deputy Executive Director 
humanrights@hlc-rdc.org, +381 11 3444 313 


The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law
organisation which monitors the human rights situation of Roma and
provides legal defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more
information about the European Roma Rights Centre, visit the ERRC on the
web at http://www.errc.org 

To support the ERRC, please visit this link:

European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Tel: +36.1.413.2200

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