The Serbian parliament on Tuesday adopted amendments to the criminal code introducing life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for rapists and killers of children, pregnant women and people incapable of defending themselves.
The changes to the law were initiated by the Tijana Juric Foundation whose Tijana’s Law won the support of 160,000 people who signed a petition.
Tijana Juric was 15 when she was kidnapped and murdered. Her father Igor set up the foundation and campaigned to have the law changed. He attended the session.
Only a few opposition MPs took part in the vote while the rest, rallied in the Alliance for Serbia block, continued their boycott of parliament sessions.
Lawyers have warned that some of the amendments run counter to the constitution and human rights conventions which Serbia has pledged to respect. Lawyers said this is a populist measure and believe the criminal code will be amended again soon.
The amendments replaced the 30-40 year prison sentences with life in prison for the worst crimes which include the murders of officials in top state bodies, serious crimes against constitutional order and security, conspiring to commit crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes against civilians, the wounded and sick and acts of terrorism.
Under the amendments, prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment can be paroled after serving 27 years unless they were convicted of murder and rape of children, pregnant women and people who can’t defend themselves.
The amendments also increased the punishment for repeat offenders, torture, domestic violence, tax evasion, the killing and torture of animals, obstruction of officials in their duties, assaults on officials on duty and violence at sports events. The amendments also introduced the crime of assaulting lawyers which was initiated by the Serbian Bar Association.