Background Briefing


The Serbian War Crimes Chamber is a critical forum for ensuring full accountability for the crimes committed during the Balkans conflicts in the 1990s. In addition to bringing to justice perpetrators in Serbia who might otherwise go unpunished, the trials are a means of educating the public about these crimes. Transparency and accountability are essential to help ensure these crimes do not occur in the future.

In order for the court to reach its potential, however, it must be fully funded and able to function independently.

This requires political will from the Serbian government. It remains to be seen how supportive the new coalition government will be of the War Crimes Chamber, but in the best case scenario it will increase government support for war crimes prosecutions, including publicly supporting the prosecutor’s work, fully funding the War Crimes Chamber, and considering in a timely fashion the law on allowing cameras into courtrooms.

European Union stakeholders in the discussions with Serbia about a Stabilization and Association Agreement and possible future EU candidate status must keep this issue, along with the need for Serbia to cooperate fully with the ICTY, on the agenda to guard against the possibility of an impunity gap for the atrocities committed in the region.