On the second day of the visit to the Protector of Citizens of the Republic of Serbia, the representative of the institution of the Ombudsman of the Netherlands, Ian Prince, met the representatives of the National Preventive Mechanism, who, first at the meeting, introduced him to the establishment of the NPM in Serbia, its competence, manner and scope of operation, and then together with him visited the Institute for persons with developmental delays “Heart in apple” (“Srce u jabuci”) in the village of Jabuka near Pančevo.
Prince was presented with the data about 500 visits paid by the NPM to the locations of detention and institutions where persons deprived of their liberty are or may be accommodated and around 2000 recommendations to competent state authorities and institutions since 2012, when NPM started functioning operatively in Serbia. In prisons, detention, psychiatric hospitals and social institutions of home type in Serbia there are 25 thousand persons deprived of their liberty. The competence of the NPM comprises protection and improvement of their rights, position and status primarily through preventive visits to the locations where they are, execution of reports and issuing of recommendations to competent bodies.
Even though the Netherlands is the signatory of the Optional protocol from 1988, as it was explained by the representative of the Dutch Ombudsman, due to specific system of social and health protection and unclear division of competence between existing inspectorates and commissions, this country still does not have an independent Mechanism for prevention of torture in the manner defined by OPCAT. Therefore, he expressed interest in the practice, manner of operation and functioning of the NPM, which have already been developed in Serbia, so future mutual cooperation and exchange of experience in this field was agreed.