Serbia Draws Criticism by Approving Life in Jail Without Parole

Misha Savic
Serbia Draws Criticism by Approving Life in Jail Without Parole

(Bloomberg) -- Serbia introduced new prison sentences of life without parole, drawing criticism from the opposition and human-rights advocates who say they violate European norms.

Lawmakers adopted the law, which was introduced via petition by the father of a 15-year-old teenager who was abducted, raped and murdered in 2014. The law applies to the killing of top officials, war crimes, genocide, killing children and other offenses. Parole is possible in most cases after a convict spends 27 years behind bars.

Appellate Court Judge Miodrag Majic criticized the law, telling N1 television that “leaving someone without hope is considered inhumane punishment.” Serbia scrapped death sentences in 2006 as part of an effort to align its norms with the European Union, which it hopes to join next decade.

Opposition lawmaker Sanda Raskovic-Ivic warned that the tougher penalties may now apply to potentially politically motivated acts that “have nothing to do with the original idea” backed by grieving families of murder victims.

The Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights, Dunja Mijatovic, said earlier this month that removing the option of parole was not in line with the European Convention on Human Rights.

To contact the reporter on this story: Misha Savic in Belgrade at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at, Michael Winfrey

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