The Republic of Serbia signed the OPCAT on 25 September 2003, it passed the Law on Ratification on 1 December 2005 and became a State Party of the OPCAT on 26 September 2006.
Under the Law amending the Law on the Ratification of the Optional Protocol, adopted on 28 July 2011 at the sitting of the Republic of Serbia National Assembly, the Protector of Citizens was designated as the authority performing the duties of the NPM.
The Model of the NPM in the Republic of Serbia is defined by the relevant law. It stipulates that the Protector of Citizens shall carry out the duties of the NPM in collaboration with the Ombudsmen of the autonomous provinces and the associations whose statute intended goal is the promotion and protection of human rights and freedoms.
The Law stipulates that the Protector of Citizens discharges the function of the NPM for a number of reasons.
Namely, the mandate of the Protector of Citizens under the Law on the Protector of Citizens covers the competences and powers of the NPM stipulated by the OPCAT, including visits to the institutions at which PDLs are kept, interviews with them, access to data, making recommendations to the competent authorities, informing the general public on the presence of torture and promoting the status of PDLs.
In addition to the above, it was observed that the Protector of Citizens had been pursuing intensive preventive activities as its team of experts, i.e. the “Prevention Mechanism of THE Protector of Citizens”, kept paying visits over a period of two (2) years to police stations, detention units, prisons, stationary-type social welfare institutions, mental institutions, shelters for asylum-seekers, etc.
In addition to the above, a decisive reason was also the fact that the Protector of Citizens has been recognized as the body acting on the basis of the Paris Principles, which is why in April 2010 it was accredited as a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) within the system of the United Nations and given “A” status.
The reason for stipulating cooperation between the Protector of Citizens and the Ombudsmen of the autonomous provinces and associations in performing the NPM duties is that the provincial Ombudsman of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina and numerous associations of citizens have for many years now been extremely active in protecting the rights of PDLs and in preventing torture as well as that they hold a wealth of know-how in monitoring the institutions where PDLs are held.