Judges set from human rights ruling on Serbian prison revolt abuse allegations

In 2007 a special visit was arranged after the telephone call made by the prisoner Bojan Draganović who requested our urgent visit and interview with him and the other prisoner whose name he hadn’t mentioned. afterwards more visits were made to assess the subjective feeling of safety of the Albaninan prisoners, giving insight into the results of the disciplinary hearing proceeded with the prisoner Draganović.

There could be seen that there is a system lack because disabled persons are not recognized as a category that requires special accommodation conditions, by which they would be brought to equal position with other prisoners, i.e. they would not be discriminated.

Panorama of city

Panorama of city Niš Ниш (Nish or Nissa) in Serbia


On November, 2005 there were riots at the penitentiary at Niš. Aleksandar Cvejić (Team leader/ lawyer/ monitor;), Verica Milošević (Psychologist/ monitor;), Milan Jovanović (Lawyer/ monitor;) Snežana Radivojević (Doctor/ monitor;) Slađana Živković Kostić (Economist / monitor and PR person) and Project coordinator Lidija Vučković for the European Commission carried out an interview carried with the prisoners, the team members came into the conclusion that only a small number of interviewed prisoners is of the opinion of being exposed to the physical violence by the officers of the penitentiary even in those situations which were officially recorded as applied restraint measures.

Only one of the interviewed prisoners stated during the visit “6” in the period of realization of the project that he was exposed to the physical violence by the members of the security service which was recorded in the medical documentation in compliance with the rules and ethics of the service. There are some discordance about the means used in injuring between the statement of the interviewed person and the medical documentation. The discordance appears due to the position in which the interviewed was when being injured (he states he was on the floor with the hands on his head) so that he was unable to confirm about the means being used in the injuring. During the interview with the examinees being lately injured by the officers in applying the restraint measures and according to the documentation of the medical service, it is concluded that they reject to talk about that particular event. It implies to either avoiding renewing trauma by speaking about it or they are afraid of the consequences they would have due to the reporting. On the other hand, what become relative are the optimistic answers of the prisoners about the quantity of restraint measures applied and about the small number of recorded cases of applied measures of constraint consequently being injured.

The problem of psychological violence is slightly expressed partially due to the fact that the prisoners were not directly exposed to the violence or within the given answers they were unable to recognize a certain behavior as psychological violence since this kind of “communication” is considered normal and usual for the penitentiary conditions. The victim of any violence, especially psychological, continues to act according to the same model storing the frustration till becoming revolted and the people from the surrounding suffer or he imitates the behaviour of the tyrant towards available victims in the surrounding.

It is interesting fact not usually occurred that one of the interviewed was able to recognize his exposure to the psychological violence by the officials of the penitentiary. The recognizable aspect of the psychological violence is abrupt attitude with dispraise of the security service members towards the examinee which was the case when he refused to be an informant about the possible other prisoners’ rules violations. Besides a small number of the interviewed prisoners (at the time of the visits) recognizing the act of being exposed to the psychological violence, is not an indisputable proof that they weren’t exposed. The answers to other questions confirm that the most prisoners are not able to recognize the situations of psychological violence partially considering it normal and usual for penitentiary conditions. However, to a less “difficult” questions considering the relation between the prisoners and the officials of the penitentiary they are able to give an answer. The overall opinion of the interviewed is that the relation between the officials of the penitentiary and the prisoners are not good being different only in the estimation how bad they are. In that case the answers go from middling to agonizing and unbearable.

One of interviewees said that during Red Cross’ visit he requested to talk to them, but it was prohibited by a member of Security Service (the officer told him that he was not allowed)

Niš skyline

Niš skyline (Photo credit: Monika Kostera (urbanlegend))

In October 2006, new constitution was adopted on referendum with slight majority, and was promulgated on November 8th. The fact that amnesty law wasn’t passed even after the half of November resulted with series of hunger strikes, protests and rebellions at prisons in Sremska Mitrovica, Požarevac, Niš, and other cities, and in most cases they were violently broken. However, Micić doesn’t think that prisoners were manipulated.

“No, that is absolutely not true. There have been some problems concerning political consensus for passing this law and it is postponed for a few months. We managed to prevent those things in District prison in Belgrade with some earlier actions, and with a lot of information from prison. Due to the bad conditions in some parts of the prison, we had some protests before, but we are working on that. Although low budget is our main problem, we have to follow international civil rights standards.”

The council’s chairman, Dobrosav Nešić, said this is the largest case to be sent from Serbia to Strasbourg so far, and added the allegations constitute for the “most brutal torture of prisoners in Europe’s modern history”.

The group of 37 Niš prison inmates which will sue the state of Serbia at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, claiming to have suffered police brutality and torture, as MUP Gendarmes and riot policemen restored order during a prison rebellion there in November 2006.

The NGO’s legal representative, Dragutin Vidosavljević, told journalists the inmates, many of whom are still serving time, believe that the Niš Municipal Prosecution did not carry out an impartial investigation into the incidents, and

“did not identify the Gendarmes who were beating the prisoners”.

“Instead of allowing the victims of violence and torture to prove the guilt of their torturers in court, the Niš prosecution said the inmates had engaged in mutual fights, or hurt themselves falling down the stairs,”

Now the convicts want the state to pay from EUR 4,000 to EUR 10,000 in damages to each of those who have filed the complaints.

Next week, judges will reveal whether they accept the complaints of inmates that Serbia’s crushing of a prison revolt breached human rights law.

Prisoners allege that they were beaten with baseball bats and truncheons after the authorities brought an end to the 2006 Niš Penitentiary rebellion.

The judges decision in the case Habimi and Others v. Serbia (no. 19072/08) will be announced on Tuesday 3 June. The case concerns allegations of ill-treatment in the Niš Penitentiary (Serbia) in November 2006 during the special police operation to bring an end to a prisoner revolt.

The 37 applicants in the case are 36 Serbian nationals and one national of Kosovo, born between 1953 and 1984, who were all detained in the Niš Penitentiary at the time of the revolt.  In the Niš Penitentiary, violent clashes had been triggered between prisoners and on 23 November 2006, all prison staff had abandoned the establishment, leaving 600 prisoners without any official supervision.

It was decided to launch a large-scale police intervention and on 24 November 2006 the protests were brought under control. The applicants allege that the police officers and/or prison guards involved in the intervention had beaten them with baseball bats and truncheons and forced them to run between two rows of men, who kicked them as they passed by and that, as a result, they had sustained various injuries, including fractured bones, bruises and concussions.

They also allege that the ensuing official investigation into their allegations was ineffective.

They rely on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment).

In the meantime the Centre for Human Rights – Nis realized already a Monitoring of conditions in KPZ Nis (Penitentiary Nis) project which was approved by EC Delegation, mission in Belgrade. It had as objective the prevention of torture and contribution to torture eradication; contribution to the reform of prisons and places of detention by making an impact on the authorities and by creating an enabling atmosphere in public.
what is very important also is to approach EU standards regarding prisons. In the near future we shall have to see if there can be reached a decreased number of torture cases and other cases of human rights violation with a direct protection for convicts. Also needed shall be collected information into the data basis; established communication among local institutions with re-socialization topic.

According to the 2012 Helsinki rapport Serbia’s punitive policy is very disparate in many segments.It is often the case that the courts from one part of Serbia (Vojvodina, for example) opt for a stricter punitive policy as compared to those in Eastern Serbia. Even though a fully synchronized punitive policy at the level of the Republic is impossible, it is clear that additional education of judges in this area is needed.


Please do find:

Centre for Human Rights – Niš, a non-profit and non-governmental organization, established in 1998, as NGO project (registered as non-governmental organization upon this name in 2000).

Serbian Police Quash Prison Uprising

Global resistance news – Eastern Europe

Bloody Thursday in Kosovo- Albanian mob and police savagely attacked Serbian children and youth…

Ali Hammad, former Al Qaeda warrior in Bosnia: We were torturing Serbs in concentrattion camps, hammered them alive, drove rusty nails through their genitals

Fear and loathing in Hague: ICTY is frantically trying to prevent lawful release of Dr Seselj, murdering him “by medicine” !?


  • Thirty-one years of solitude…and counting (coloradoindependent.com)
    How long should the government be allowed to imprison someone in extreme isolation?Indefinitely, according to a new federal appeals court ruling.The case, Thomas Silverstein. v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, raised the question of whether decades of solitary confinement within the already isolating conditions of prison constitutes cruel and unusual punishment – legal parlance for torture.
  • 10 Photography Projects on Prisons (Some U.S., Some Abroad) Recently Added to the Web (prisonphotography.org)
    In recent months, there’s been a number of interesting — and in some cases, urgent — photo stories coming out of prisons worldwide, that I’d like to draw you attention to.
  • The Shame of America’s Gulag by Chris Hedges (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
    If, as Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote, “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons” then we are a nation of barbarians. Our vast network of federal and state prisons, with some 2.3 million inmates, rivals the gulags of totalitarian states.
  • It’s not just places like Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib where USA practices torture, it’s at home as well (uprootedpalestinians.wordpress.com)
    George Mallinckrodt, a psychotherapist assigned to the unit from 2008 to 2011, related a series of episodes, including the death of inmate Darren Rainey. The 50-year-old was placed in a small, enclosed, scalding-hot shower by guards and left unattended for more than an hour. He collapsed and died amid the searing heat, suffering severe burns when he fell, face up, atop the drain.
    Mallinckrodt, who now works in private practice, said in an interview Monday that prison guards made “sport’’ of agitating the mentally ill inmates, hoping for an excuse to beat or otherwise punish them.If the inmates threatened to file a complaint, the guards would tell them they could be written up for something they didn’t do, or confined to their cell 24 hours a day.One corrections officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said guards would threaten to subject the mentally-ill prisoners to “the shower.’’That would be a reference to a narrow, locked, second-floor chamber where, Hempstead said, Rainey was shoved after defecating in his cell and refusing to clean it up.Mallinckrodt said the handles in that shower were broken in the “on” position and guards controlled the flow from the central shut-off valve, where they were able to turn up the water temperature to excruciating levels.
  • Insiders: ‘Prison exploits and mistreats us, but it cannot defeat us’ (socialistworker.co.uk)
    The myth of prisoners enjoying a cushy life on the inside is regularly pushed by the right wing media and the Tories. We are told that prisoners lead a laid back lifestyle watching TV in their cells all day.“It’s all part of an agenda,” Noel “Razor” Smith, a former prisoner who spent over 30 years in different jails, told Socialist Worker.In recent weeks stories have hit the press about prisoners walking out of open jails. This has enabled the prison system to crack down on inmates. Noel said, “I’ve got a mate who is a lifer. He waited 18 years to get town visits and home leave, and last week he was told that they all have been cancelled.“He was gutted. But the prison system can get away with this because of the false image that has been created of prisoners.”The reality is that life inside is brutal and conditions are desperate. Last year saw the highest rates of death and violence in prison for 15 years with four alleged murders.Suicide and self harm are at their highest for six years, with 70 deaths in prison. These statistics expose the lie that prisons rehabilitate people.

    Prisons are filled with people with backgrounds in extreme poverty and often abuse. Locking them up institutionalises violence and takes away any control people have over their own lives.

    Because of all of this, prisons are a powder keg waiting to explode.

    On top of the hike in violence, inmates are crammed into crowded cells, starved and made to work long shifts for just pennies an hour for private companies.

  • Serbian Bloc Eyes Real Power In Kosovo – Analysis (eurasiareview.com)
    The prospect of a united Belgrade-backed bloc in parliament raises the chance of Serbia extending its influence to the heart of Kosovo’s government.
    It is unclear just how many Serbs live in Kosovo. A common estimate is about 100,000, around 5 per cent of the population. While few in number, between a soon-to-be-formed Association of Serbian Municipalities and a united stance in parliament, the Serbian minority could wield outsized influence on the government of Kosovo, which many of them do not even recognize.
  • The wound of Jasenovac and a plea to Pope Francis (christiantoday.com)
    Auschwitz and Dachau are known as infamous concentration camps from World War II. But, did you ever hear of the heinous Jasenovac concentration camp in Croatia that existed during World War II?
    The Croats claimed anger over the recent war in the Balkan region in the 1990s but this hatred is tragically much deeper against Serbs. The primary “enemy” of the Ustasha were the Serbs living within Croatia. They were hated for their ethnicity and for their Orthodox Christian faith. The exact number of victims killed by Ustasha at Jasenovac will never be known, but historians do agree that hundreds of thousands of people were brutally killed by the Ustasha regime in Croatia. According to the Jasenovac Memorial website almost a quarter of the known victims at Jasenovac were children.
  • “That Little Serbian” (dish.andrewsullivan.com)
    the Ustaša, which in World War II killed hundreds of thousands of Serbians. They also operated what is popularly known as the “worst” concentration camp, Jasenovac. This is a nasty history, which though it may not rank as high as the Jewish experience in terms of lasting-existential terror, is nonetheless so far beyond the pale that it qualifies easily as among the worst ethnic-cleansing experiences of the period.

About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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