Cybercrime - criminal offences, competent authorities and organization and cooperation thereof in the republic of Serbia

Tamara Janković, lawyer


Tijana Zivković, lawyer


Law office of Tomislav Šunjka


The computer is one of the most important and most revolutionary achievements of technical and technological civilization. But despite all the advantages that bring a huge benefit to mankind, the computer has quickly become a mean of abuse of unconscious individuals, groups and even organizations.

 Along with the rapid computerization of society and the entry of the Internet into all areas of social and private lives of people, computer crime is becoming the dominant form of abuse, violations of the laws and norms of behaviour.

New forms of attacks on computers and computer networks emerge rapidly, and new types of cybercrime practically depend only on the imagination of malicious perpetrators of criminal offences. Cybercrime may lead to serious damages such as abuse of intellectual property rights, loss business confidential information, loss of sensitive business information, including possible market manipulation, additional costs of providing network security and recovery from cyber-attacks and reputational damage. Due to all aforementioned combating against cybercrime has become highly important and includes variety of authorities therefor, as well as cooperation among them and its cooperation with non-government organizations and citizens.

Cybercriminal shall mean committing of criminal offenses where as an instrument for execution and where as a tool for committing an offense occur computers, computer networks, computer data and their products in material and electronic form, so that the computer becomes instrument (Computer Related Crime) or target (Computer Crime) of criminal offence, as well as criminal offences wherein in which manner of execution exists elements of illegal use of the Internet.

Criminal offences against security of computer data defined by Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia are following: 1. Damaging Computer Data and Programs, 2. Computer Sabotage, 3. Creating and Introducing of Computer Viruses, 4. Computer Fraud, 5. Unauthorized Access to Computer, 6. Computer Network or Electronic Data Processing, 7. Preventing or Restricting Access to Public Computer Network, 8. Unauthorized Use of Computer Network, 9. Manufacture, Procurement, and Provision to Others of Means of Committing Criminal Offences against Security of Computer Data.

Besides criminal offences that are listed in Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia, Law on the organization and competences of government authorities combating cybercrime (Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia No 61/2005 and 104/2009) also regulates this legal matter and, additionally, widens the scope of criminal offences which are deemed to be cybercrime, and those are criminal offences against intellectual property, property, economy and legal instruments, where computers, computer systems, data and products thereof appear as the objects or the means of committing a criminal offence and if the number of items of copyrighted works is over 2000, or the amount of the actual damage is over 1.000.000,00 RSD, as well as criminal offences against freedoms and rights of man and citizen, sexual freedoms, public order and constitutional system and security, which can be consider, due to the manner in which they are committed or tools used, as cybercrime offences.

The most common forms of cybercriminal are related to Internet auction sites (e-shop), abuse of credit cards, phishing and identity thefts, "Nigerian" or “419” scam, and the most common infringements by Internet frauds are copyrights. In the Republic of Serbia, more than half perpetrators of cybercrimes are young persons under 35 years old. The great part of perpetrators, 35.48% have technical and technological knowledge while 24.52% of them have no occupation. 58% of perpetrators are unemployed.

Cybercrime Unit has been established within the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia: Cybercrime Unit for combating cybercrime. The Unit acts upon requests of the Special Prosecutor's Office, in accordance with the law. The minister responsible for internal affairs appoints and dismisses the commanding officer of the Unit, determines Unit’s activity, by following the opinion of the Special Prosecutor. Within the Cybercrime Unit were established also Department for Electronic Crime and Department for Combating Crime in the area Intellectual Property as organizational parts for performing duties in regard to more specific areas of cybercrime combating.

The Higher Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade has the jurisdiction for the territory of the Republic of Serbia to proceed in cybercrime matters. The Higher Prosecutor’s office established special cybercrime department - Special Prosecutor’s Office. The Special Prosecutor's Office is managed by a Special Prosecutor for suppression of cybercrime. Public Prosecutor may request from courts, other public authorities, local self-government, autonomous province authorities etc. to provide him with explanations and data which may be of use for undertaking actions within his purview.

The Higher Court in Belgrade shall establish a Cybercrime Department which has first-instance jurisdiction in cybercrime matters for the territory of the Republic of Serbia. Judges who act in cybercrime cases are appointed from the judges employed in Belgrade Higher Court with their consent.  Preference is given to those judges who have knowledge in the field of information technologies. The trial before the Cybercrime Department is being conducted in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code.

The most important is the cooperation between stated authorities as a public sector with citizens and legal entities as private sector. Sometimes cooperation is accomplished by direct reporting of criminal offences by the private sector and its help with providing the government authorities with relevant information.

On the other hand, also very significant is the cooperation of private sector with organisations such as NET PARTOL which is a member of INHOPE – International Association of Internet Hotlines.

NET PATROL, as an internet operator of mechanisms for reporting, offers everyone an opportunity to report illegal and disturbing content through the various different reporting methods, and especially child sexual abuse images, sexual exploitation and physical and psychological attacks against children. NET PATROL, after assessment of report, in a very short term informs Cybercrime Unit via email or, in urgent events, via telephone as well. Additionally, NET PATROL informs the sender of the report on sending the report to the Cybercrime Unit. Upon notification of the relevant Cybercrime Unit of the RS Ministry of Interior, Police shall, within their remit, investigate the case and file criminal charges to the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office in compliance with the law.

The Law on International Assistance in Criminal Matters prescribes mutual assistance between countries regarding: extradition of defendants or convicted persons; assumption and transfer of criminal prosecution; execution of criminal judgments; other forms of mutual assistance.

Due to the newly adopted regulations and widening scope of criminal offences which are deemed to be cybercrime and which fall under jurisdiction of Cybercrime Unit, Special Prosecutors Office for High-Tech Crime and a Cybercrime Department established within the Higher Court in Belgrade, the author believes that the consciousness of high importance of cybercrime protection has developed in the public opinion.

Nevertheless, the knowledge about the various forms and means of cybercriminal can be always higher among the Private Sector which is the main victim of cybercrimes perpetrators.

Therefore, the prevention and education should be one of the most important manners to combat the cybercrime. When the prevention abate, especially due to the reason that cybercrime perpetrators change the manner of  execution of criminal offences in a day-to-day level, the government authorities shall use legislation authorization and detect, prosecute and try for cybercrime. 

Relevant regulations: The Criminal Code ("Official Gazette of the RoS", no. 85/2005, 88/2005 -correction, 107/2005 –correction, 72/2009, 111/2009, 121/2012, 104/2013 and 108/2014), The Law on the organisation and competences of government authorities combating cybercrime (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, no 61/2005 and 104/2009), The Criminal Procedure Code ("Official Gazette of the RoS ", no. 72/2011, 101/2011, 121/2012, 32/2013, 45/2013 and 55/2014), The Law on ratification of the Convention on Cybercrime ("Official Gazette of RoS", no. 19/2009),  The Law on International Assistance in Criminal Matters ("Official Gazette of RoS ", no. 20/2009).