Baby Trafficking In Serbia - - News / 2020





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News / Serbia 2020

U.S.NEWS, February 29, 2020. / source
Serbia Passes Law in Response to Missing Babies Scandal

Serbian lawmakers have approved a long-awaited law that aims to shed light on the fate of hundreds of children whose parents fear might have been stolen from birth clinics.

In this photo taken Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, a protester holds up a banner that reads: "Where are our Children", during a protest in front of the parliament building in Belgrade, Serbia. After years of waiting, Serbian lawmakers are set to soon pass a bill that authorities say attempts to shed light on a chilling, decades-old scandal involving hundreds of families who suspect their babies were stolen at birth. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) - — Serbian lawmakers on Saturday approved a long-awaited law that aims to shed light on the fate of hundreds of children whose parents fear might have been stolen from birth clinics throughout the Balkan country.

The bill passed on a 136-0 vote in the 250-member assembly. Two lawmakers abstained. The high number of absent lawmakers was unrelated to the bill, but an ongoing boycott of parliament sessions by opposition parties and other reasons.

The law resulted from a 2013 European Court of Human Rights ruling which obliged Serbia to create a mechanism for providing answers to parents seeking information about their children.

The chilling scandal first erupted years ago when parents went public with suspicions their babies hadn't been stillborn or died at birth as they were told but had been kidnapped as part of an organized criminal scheme.

Most of the parents were unable to obtain proper medical documentation about their children’s deaths or trace where the newborns were buried. Some families were told documents were destroyed in floods or fires.

The new law envisions court proceedings to determine what happened to the children or offers compensation of up to 10,000 euros ($11,000) if the facts cannot be established.

Independent experts initially criticized the proposed bill, saying it served as a way to give parents payouts rather than to establish the truth. The government made last-minute additions that included forming a special commission with the parents’ representatives and a guarantee that cases could be reopened if new evidence surfaces.

Officials have warned that establishing facts could be hard as most cases date back to the era of the former Yugoslav federation, which dissolved in a series of wars in the 1990s and became seven new nations. They say the parents' suspicions likely resulted from a combination of possible criminal action and state negligence.

By BY JOVANA GEC, Associated Press, Wire Service Content

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ENGNEWS 24H, February 28, 2020. / source
Amendments to the Missing Babies Act reached

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic met with representatives of the Missing Baby Parents Association this afternoon. Prime Minister Brnabic initiated the meeting to personally hear their remarks and concerns regarding the Bill on Facts on the Status of Newborn Children Suspected of Missing from a Maternity Hospital in the Republic of Serbia, which is in the parliamentary procedure.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the Belgrade Group of Missing Baby Parents, representatives of the A11 Initiative, the Open Society Foundation, and MP Tatiana Macura of the Party of Modern Serbia. The meeting was also attended by representatives of the Republic Legislation Secretariat, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Interior and other state bodies.

In an open conversation, the meeting agreed on three amendments to the proposed law, which will be immediately forwarded to the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, addressing some of the contentious issues raised by the parents' associations. The proposed amendments provide for the establishment of a Commission to collect facts on the status of newborns suspected to have disappeared from maternity wards in the Republic of Serbia, thus creating a clear space for investigations, further investigations and any necessary investigative actions.

It is of particular importance that the Commission will be composed of representatives of state bodies, as well as representatives of registered parental associations dealing with the issue of missing newborn children, who will have a majority in this commission. Parents from the Belgrade Group of Parents of Missing Babies believe that a major step forward and a sincere basis for the future joint work of the Government and parents has been made today. They stressed that they are aware that this is an extremely difficult and complex problem, but that it is very important that, after a long time, a serious step forward in further cooperation with state authorities was made at today's meeting.

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic regretted that such a meeting had not taken place earlier and stressed that both the Government and her were personally committed to continuing dialogue and cooperation with associations and parents. That is why the Prime Minister said that she will meet with all representatives of the Parents Association next week to discuss in more detail legal solutions, problems they face and future cooperation.

Photo: Pexels

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YOCOM, March 1, 2020. / source
Demanding answers: parents of missing Serbian babies protest new law

Serbian lawmakers have adopted a long-awaited law they say will shed light on the mystery of hundreds of missing babies more than 30 years ago, and offer compensation to parents where the fate of their child cannot be determined.

In the 1970s and 1980s, hundreds of Serbian babies (some advocates say thousands) mysteriously vanished from hospitals and birth clinics with no explanation or proof of death.

However, parents of missing babies have been protesting the new law, saying they weren’t included in the process to draft it and arguing its purpose is to pay out the families rather than establish the truth.

Mirjana Novokmet was 19 when she was told at a Belgrade clinic that her baby was stillborn. Forty years later, she’s still searching for answers.

“I am hoping that he is somewhere alive,” she said.

“I believe someone had taken him, sold him, within the country or outside the country. I really can’t tell, but I am certain that he is alive.”

The bill passed on a 136-0 vote in the 250-member assembly, with two lawmakers abstaining. An ongoing boycott of parliament sessions by opposition, among other reasons, contributed to the high number of absent lawmakers.

The law resulted from a 2013 European Court of Human Rights ruling, which demanded that authorities create a mechanism to provide answers to parents.

It requires specially-trained police officers to carry out investigative work into the disappearances, and where the fate of the missing babies cannot be determined, give families compensation of up to 10,000 euros ($11,000).

According to Katarina Golubovic, spokeswoman for the Lawyer’s Committee for Human Rights, the Government adopted amendments to the bill as a result of pressure from advocacy groups and to placate the families in the lead-up to the general election in April.

“The opposing of the parents is seen as a negative effect for the campaign.

“However, despite the reasons for the adoption of new solutions, we can say that these new solutions have potential to return the lost trust in the state, since the state will give the opportunity to the parents to be part of the interdisciplinary commission that will investigate cases.”

Since 2002, several groups of parents with similar cases have banded together to compare documentation to uncover the truth.

Parents were issued with death certificates without any other proof of death and were denied access to their children’s bodies. In most cases it was the firstborn child of a young, married couple that disappeared and in many cases the same doctors were involved.

Novokmet says the frequent reappearance of names of certain doctors and registrars leads the families to believe the babies were taken by an organised criminal group.

“It is interesting that we have been fighting this battle for 17 years and the state turned a blind eye,” she said.

Mirjana Novokmet has been pursuing her case for decades

Mirjana Novokmet has been pursuing her case for decades.

Advocacy groups representing the families say the law has a number of problems, including that it doesn’t include all medical institutions, that parents are required to gather evidence rather than the court, and it doesn’t include the capacity for children who suspect they are one of the missing babies to seek answers.

Parents of missing babies this week protested outside Parliament in Belgrade, demanding to be included in the drafting of the law.

They claim to have sent 130 appeals and suggestions over six years, which they say have gone unanswered.

One of their key objections is the compensation if a case could not be solved, saying that no parent would accept money in exchange for answers about their missing child.

“I think no mother can agree for 10,000 Euros, because hope for the truth about my child cannot be bought,” Novokmet says.

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