Over 100 civil society organizations, a member of the Network of Organizations for the Children of Serbia and Women against Violence Network with the support of the Autonomous Women's Center have shown firm protests over the failure of state institutions to stop domestic violence.

We ask the courts to urgently review all the irregular decisions about the visitations of children by fathers who have committed violence. We ask the social work centers to suspend all visitations in controlled conditions for which there is no judicial decision and to review all cases of reported violence in order to assess the risk of further violence against women and children and to propose measures to ensure their protection.

The method, as well as the location, of the meeting between the child and the parent should be determined in accordance with the previously carefully assessed security risks and there should be an individual security plan in place for each concrete case.

Professionals from the social welfare and judiciary systems should primarily be guided by what’s in the best interest of the child. We remind that the child has the right to maintain contact with a parent who is not entrusted with the child in accordance with its best interests. Insisting on maintaining a child's contact with a parent in cases of partner violence and violence against children is incompatible with the child's right to have contact with a parent. It’s not in the best interest of the child to maintain contact with a parent who is violent towards the mother and the child.

It is in the best interest of children, as well as women, that they do not see their abusers, and any further insistence by institutions on this practice only increases the risk of new murders.

In both cases of the murder of women and children in the past ten days, a procedure for divorce was initiated. During the period when a woman with children tries to leave the abuser, and the abuser realizes that he’s losing control over them, the violence intensifies, and the breakdown of a partnership or divorce is one of the key risks for the escalation of violence. Professionals from the social welfare and judiciary systems mustn’t ignore this risk and enable the abuser to see the child and meet with his wife.

Determining omissions and accountability regarding these cases is the first and merely one step in further actions.

On behalf of the Women Against Violence Network
Aleksandra Nestorov
On behalf of the Network of Organizations for the Children of Serbia MODS
Sasa Stefanovic
On behalf of the Autonomous Women's Center
Slobodanka Macanović