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Missing babies in Serbia: European Court takes stock of progress

Zorica Jovanović v. Serbia
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On 15 April, the European Court decided to strike out two applications against Serbia concerning the disappearance of the applicants’ newborn children in State-run maternity wards in the 1980’s. Since 2013 when the judgment in Zorica Jovanović was adopted, this is the first time the Court has decided to strike out similar applications.

The Court noted that the Zorica Jovanović Implementation Act adopted in February 2020 provides for both judicial and extrajudicial procedures with respect to the situation faced by the applicants and others and is aimed at discovering the truth about missing babies. The Act, also, provides for a system in which the domestic courts shall have the power to investigate and obtain evidence not only at the request of the petitioner but also proprio motu in order to establish all the relevant facts of a case, as well as the power to award compensation where appropriate. Additionally, the Act provides for a Commission with extensive investigatory, data collection and reporting powers. Although the setting up and functioning of the DNA database remains to be fully implemented, the Court concluded that there are no particular reasons regarding respect for human rights which would require it to continue the examination of the case.

 Zorica Jovanović - HUDOC EXEC