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Should we believe a state that makes empty promises?
Autonomous Women’s Centre press release
The fact that the state cares only declaratively about women victims of violence, mainly during the election campaign, is clearly shown in the results of the competition of the Ministry of Justice for the allocation of funds collected by applying the institutional delay of criminal proceedings .
Out of 67 projects the Ministry of Justice selected in this competition, none is intended for the programmes of prevention or eradication of violence against women, nor for support of the victims of violence. Also, less than 5% of the funds are allocated to the citizens’ associations, while the remaining funds are allocated to state institutions.
Delay of criminal proceedings achieved by giving away a certain amount of money to charity has been increasingly applied in Serbia in recent years. According to the data of the Ombudsman, 15% of criminal charges for domestic violence end with the implementation of this institution.
This practice of prosecutor’s offices in Serbia is contrary to the provision of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, which prohibits mandatory alternative dispute resolution. Perpetrators of violence, who have been ordered to pay a certain amount of funds for humanitarian purposes, pay that amount from their household budgets, and in that way the prosecutors in Serbia indirectly punish women and children victims of violence.
On the other hand, minimal investments of the state in the field of protection and support for the victims of violence require that, if they already exist, the funds raised by the implementation of this institution in cases of domestic violence are to be consistently focused on improving the protection of victims of violence in Serbia. We are reminding you that only 9 out of 29 specialised SOS hotlines for women and children victims of violence received support for their work from the local budget - an average of 150,000.00 dinars per year, which is far below any minimum required for the functioning of this service.
Autonomous Women's Centre has applied for the competition with the project for free legal aid for women victims of violence, due to the fact that the Republic of Serbia still has no law on free legal aid. Other women's organisations have also applied with projects which support women victims of violence, and not one of them was supported.
What is the meaning of the announcement that 2016 will be the year of combating violence against women and domestic violence, or the motto of the Government of the Republic of Serbia “zero tolerance for violence”? Should we believe a state that makes empty promises?
In Belgrade, May 26, 2016
 The results of the competition are available at http://www.mpravde.gov.rs/obavestenje/12798/predlog-resenja-o-dodeli-sredstava.php