By the Law on amending the Law on Ratification of Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), adopted on 28 July 2011, the Protector of Citizens shall operate a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM). In performing the duties of NPM the Protector of Citizens shall cooperate with ombudsmen of autonomous provinces and associations whose statute intended goal is the promotion and protection of human rights and freedoms, in accordance with the Law. Protector of Citizens informed the Subcommittee for prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Subcommittee) about the mentioned above.
For the purpose of informing relevant authorities and bodies, this report contains all activities conducted by the Protector of Citizens in the past six months of the 2011, in preparation for the beginning of the work and efficient performance of the NPM in accordance with the OPCAT. The Protector of Citizens delivered the report to Subcommittee on 25 January 2012 with all undertaken activities.
The Republic of Serbia Constitution Article 138 lays down that the Protector of Citizens is an independent administrative body which safeguards the rights of citizens and controls the activities of the bodies of government administration, of the body in charge of legal protection of property rights and interests of the Republic of Serbia as well as of any other bodies and organizations, companies and institutions entrusted with the exercise of public powers. The Protector of Citizens is not authorized to control the activities of the National Assembly, the President of the Republic, the Government, the Constitutional Court, the courts and public prosecutors offices. The Protector of Citizens is appointed and relieved of duty by the National Assembly in accordance with the Constitution and the law. The Protector of Citizens answers to the National Assembly. The Protector of Citizens enjoys immunity as a Member of Parliament. The immunity of the Protector of Citizens is decided upon by the National Assembly. A law is adopted on the Protector of Citizens.
The Law on the Protector of Citizens lays down that the Protector of Citizens is independent, autonomous in performing its duties, a state body which safeguards and looks after promotion of citizens’ rights and controls the legality and regularity of the work (performed) by bodies of government administration, the body in charge of legal protection of property rights and interests of the Republic of Serbia as well as of other bodies and organizations, enterprises and institutions entrusted with the exercise of public powers.
In performing the duties from its remit the Protector of Citizens acts within the limits of the Constitution, the law, other regulations and bylaws as well as the ratified international treaties and the generally accepted rules of international law.
The Protector of Citizens has the right to submit motions and/or initiate the (procedure for the) passage of bills and amendments to the laws as well as of other regulations and bylaws and is empowered to give opinions in the course of the procedure of drafting regulations. It is further empowered to launch the procedure before the Constitutional Court for assessing the constitutionality and legality of laws and other regulations and bylaws. It is authorized to publicly recommend that any functionary held accountable for a breach of a citizen’s right be removed from office and/or to initiate the start of disciplinary proceedings against any employee with an administrative body who is directly held accountable for the committed infringement.
If it is found that the actions carried out by a functionary or an employee with the administrative body had elements of a criminal act or any other punishable act, the Protector of Citizens is authorized to submit to the competent body a request or, better to put it, an application for the relevant criminal proceedings, petty offence proceedings or any other proceedings to be initiated.
Administrative bodies have the task to work together with the Protector of Citizens, enable access to premises and make available all data that are at their disposal and of relevance to the proceedings going on to achieve the goal of its preventive action regardless of the degree of their confidentiality, except when this is in conflict with the law. The Protector of Citizens has the right to conduct an interview with any employee with the administrative body when that is of relevance to the ongoing proceedings.
It has been stipulated in particular that the Protector of Citizens should have the right of unhindered access to the institutions for enforcement of penal sanctions and to any other places where persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) are held as well as the right to talk to such persons behind closed doors.
The Protector of Citizens has one Deputy in charge of protecting the rights of PDLs.