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Punishing Perpetrators or Seeking Truth for Victims: Serbian Opinions on Dealing with War Crimes

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The debate on how to deal with the past in Serbia is still ongoing almost twenty years after the end of the armed conflict in the former Yugoslavia. From the very start the international community has put major emphasis on the criminal prosecution and conviction of the persons mostly responsible for the war crimes in the region, both by establishing the ICTY and encouraging national prosecutions. In the discussions about ‘dealing with the past’ in Serbia little if any attention has been devoted to the views and expectations of the local population, although they provide an additional source of information about the strategies and the mechanisms for dealing with the crimes of the past and reconstructing the future. The objective of this chapter is to find out what people in Serbia think about the central debates around impunity and accountability for war crimes, and more specifically which importance they attach to criminal prosecutions and truth commissions in the country. For this purpose, it reports about the main findings of a quantitative survey conducted in Serbia in 2007, and concludes that the picture is not black and white but complex instead.

Affiliations: 1: aProfessor of Criminology and Human Rights, Leuven Institute of Criminology, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium; Secretary General of the International Society for Criminology ; 2: bProfessor of Victimology and Restorative Justice, Institute of Criminology, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany


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