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Events

In 2002, the United Nations General Assembly drafted the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, for purpose to establish a system of regular visits to places where persons deprived of their liberty by independent international and national bodies, in order to prevention torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment.

Currently, 89 countries around the world have ratified or acceded to the Optional Protocol, and 14 countries have signed the Optional Protocol. Out of the 89 member states of the Optional Protocol, 71 of them established NPM at the national level and showed the will to prevent unacceptable human rights violations in places where persons are deprived of their liberty through preventive visits and cooperation with competent authorities.

Serbia signed the Optional Protocol in September 2003, ratified it in December 2005, while the Member State of the Optional Protocol became in September 2006. At the session of the National Assembly Republic of Serbia, in July 2011 the Ombudsman was appointed to perform the activities of the National Prevention Mechanism (NPM) in cooperation with ombudsmen of autonomous provinces and civil society organizations.

Since 2012, when its started his work, NPM has made about 560 visits to places where or may be found detained persons and sent over 2000 recommendations for remedying the identified deficiencies. Out of this number recommendations, thanks to the cooperation between the NPM and the competent authorities, most of the recommendations have been received, which indicating that among the authorities there is awareness of the need to implement the adopted international standards, respect for human rights and the prevention of abuse.

On the occasion of the World Refugee Day, the Protector of Citizens invites state authorities, although the influx of refugees from the war-affected areas to the Republic of Serbia has been reduced, to continue with efforts to provide everyone with appropriate reception and to determine in an efficient and fair procedure whether there is an obligation to grant them stay and protection.

According to data available to the Protector of Citizens, there are about 3,000 migrants in our country in the reception centers, and from the beginning of the year, less than a hundred of them applied for asylum.

Since the beginning of the refugee crisis, the Protector of Citizens, working as the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), regularly visits places where refugees and migrants are accomodated and to relevant authorities. In the course of 2018, 22 visits were carried out, about which 19 reports were prepared with 25 recommendations for elimination of identified deficiencies and improvement of treatment. During this year, the NPM intensified the exchange of information with the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration, and established the cooperation with Ministry of the Interior regarding the monitoring of forced return of foreigners.

The World Refugee Day, with the support of the United Nations, is celebrating on June 20 each year and is committed to raising awareness about the situation with refugees around the world.

As in previous years, representatives of the National Preventive Mechanism also this year held a lecture in a special training for police officers, organized by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX), on the protection of basic human rights and monitoring during the forced return operations. The training was held at the premises of the Criminal Police Academy in Belgrade.

Police officers, who will be engaged as official escorts in joint return operations of citizens of the Republic of Serbia from EU countries, are presented organization, mandate and activities of the NPM, with particular reference to the NPM's competence to supervise the procedure of forced removal of foreigners. Also, the NPM presented monitoring of the readmission and forced return which were done so far, as well as the aspects to which monitors pays attention during monitoring.

NPM MrezaPrevention of reprisals was the topic of the meeting of the Network of National mechanisms for the Prevention of Torture of South-East Europe, held in Skopje on June 11 and 12 this year. The host of the meeting was the Ombudsman of the Republic of Northern Macedonia in cooperation with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) mission in Macedonia.

The network meeting included presentations of national teams, exchange of experiences and discussion on the topic of reprisals, as well as joint steps in the further work of the network. A representative of the NPM of Serbia stated that the NPM does not have an official document in which it deals with the prevention of reprisal to the persons that NPM has provided with some information, and that their actions on this topic are based on preventive mechanisms "before", "during" and "after the visit ", guided primarily by the principles of confidentiality and " do not harm ". Also, great attention is paid to "ad hoc" visits if there is an alarm during the visit that individuals or groups can endure some form of intimidation or reprisals due to cooperation with the NPM, whether it is employees ("whistleblowers") or persons deprived of their liberty.

In addition to representatives of the NPM countries of the South East Europe, representatives of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) also attended the meeting of the Network.

Within the framework of the visit to the Protector of Citizens, Ms. Tatjana Nikolaevna Moskalkova, the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the Russian Federation, held talks with representatives of the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM). The Commissioner is presented the way in which the NPM mandate is legally regulated, as well as its functional and financial independence in relation to the institution of the Protector of Citizens. In addition, the Commissioner was interested in financing the activities by the Council of Europe and she received impressions of good cooperation on the project, concrete results and plans for future activities.

After the meeting in the premises of the Protector of Citizens, the delegation visited the Belgrade District Prison, where it was welcomed by the prison manager Mr. Zvonko Grulović. The delegation visited the official premises, the courtroom, the open air space, the blocks for the accommodation of persons deprived of their liberty, the medical premises and the prison chapel. During the detour, the High Commissioner had a conversation with a imprisoned Russian citizen.