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Events

The need for the provision of translation services during the visits of the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) to asylum centers, reception centers and institutions of social protection of home type where minor migrants are accommodated was the topic of the meeting of NPM representatives with the representatives of the United Nation High Commissariat for Refugees (UNHCR).

Taking into account that, even though the so-called Balkan route is currently closed, according to the UNHCR data around 20 thousand migrants cross Serbia and currently in Serbia there are three thousand five hundred migrants, among them between 400 and 500 unaccompanied minors, it is clearly needed, as it was pointed out at the meeting, to improve the protection and exercise of human rights of migrants. One of the preconditions is the immediate communication with migrants, since it is the manner for the NPM to obtain complete information on the position of migrants, protection of their rights and potential problems they face during the visits to the locations where migrants are accommodated. Therefore, it was agreed at the meeting to sign the corresponding Memorandum based on which the translators who would accompany the NPM representatives during the visit to migrants would be engaged.

UNHCR supported the efforts of the NPM to pay attention to unaccompanied minors, since some of them are still accommodated at the asylum centers, where, unlike social institutions, there is a prominent problem regarding their safety. The level of protection of minors which exists at social institutions is standardized and at a higher level than the one which exists at the asylum center, which is why, as they say, it is necessary to provide better surveillance of minors at the asylum centers if they are staying there.

The plan of the NPM is to visit by the end of the year the Asylum Center in Krnjača, reception centers in Šid, Principovac and Adaševci, the Konstantin the Great airport in Niš and institutions of social protection of home type where minor migrants are accommodated. This year the NPM started supervising the procedure of coercive removal of foreigners, but the number of coercively removals and the manner in which they would be performed is impossible to estimate, since the NPM activities depend on the information obtained by the Ministry of Interior immediately before the coercive removal.

The Association “Observatory of national preventive mechanisms against torture” (NPM Obs.) published with the consent of NPM the report on the visit to the National Preventive Mechanism of the Republic of Serbia. The Report refers to years 2017 and 2018 during which the Observatory visited the Protector of Citizens twice and observed the NPM operation. Based on this, the Report presents observations and suggestions which might be considered by the Serbian NPM in order to improve methodological approach in the visits to locations where persons deprived of their liberty are or might be accommodated.

The delegation of the Observatory met during the preliminary visit in June 2017 the employees of the National Preventive Mechanism of the Protector of Citizens, representatives of Provincial Ombudsman, representatives of associations collaborating with the Protector of Citizens in the performance of NPM activities, state authorities in whose competence the institutions visited by NPM are and other persons. During the main visit, in June 2018 the delegation of the NPM Observatory followed the NPM of the Republic of Serbia in their visits to the Special Hospital for Psychiatric Diseases Kovin, Punishment-Correctional Institute in Belgrade -Padinska Skela and Police station Zemun, as well as the preparations of these visits and reporting about them.

The Report on the visit to the Republic of Serbia is of utmost importance for NPM of the Republic of Serbia because it is the first report of this type of the NPM Observatory. Members of NPM team shall review the suggestions from the report of the NPM Observatory since they will unquestionably contribute to the improvement of their operation.

The NPM Observatory is an international non-profit organization which offers to national preventive mechanisms the possibility of independent insight and analysis of their capacities for efficient implementation of tasks assigned by the Optional Protocol with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment.

Attachments:
Download this file (NPM OBS Serbia NPM report.pdf)NPM OBS Report

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment has been adopted and is open for signature, ratification and accession by UN General Assembly Resolution no. 39/46 of 10 December 1984, and it entered into force on 26 June 1987. The Convention, as one of the key instruments in the fight against torture in the world, obliges Member States to take all legal, administrative, judicial or other effective measures to prevent the execution of acts of torture in its territory.

On this occasion, as well as on the occasion of the signing of the Charter of the United Nations, 26 June was defined in the United Nations Calendar as the International Day for the Support to Victims of Torture.

To date, the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment has been signed by over 160 countries around the world, and based on the Optional Protocol to the Convention, over 80 national preventive mechanisms have been established.

The SFR Yugoslavia ratified the Convention in 1991, and the Republic of Serbia has been, based on the succession of previous states, a member of the Convention since 2001. In addition to the Convention, the Republic of Serbia signed and ratified its Optional Protocol in 2011, by which the Protector of Citizens was designated to perform the activities of the national mechanism for the prevention of torture. By ratifying the Optional Protocol, the Republic of Serbia undertook the obligation to increase the protection of persons deprived of liberty by means of preventive activities based on regular visits to places where there are people who are deprived of liberty or where people who are deprived of liberty might be found.

In carrying out the work of the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture, the Protector of Citizens has visited 550 of the places where there are people who are deprived of liberty or where people who are deprived of liberty might be found since 2012, and has sent over 2000 recommendations for remedying the deficiencies identified. The recommendations related, first of all, to material conditions in institutions where persons deprived of their liberty are, to the improvement of nutrition and hygiene, improvement of treatment and health care of convicted persons, respect for the privacy of users, as well as engagement of an adequate number of employees. In the first half of 2019, the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture conducted 29 visits to places where there are people who are deprived of liberty or where people who are deprived of liberty might be found and sent 69 recommendations to the institutions visited and to the line ministries.

Based on numerous visits, it is certain that in the Republic of Serbia there is no systematic torture against persons deprived of their liberty. However, inadequate material conditions and insufficient and/or inadequate human resources in institutions where persons deprived of their liberty are accommodated are risk factors that can lead to degrading treatment and in some cases to abuse.

In order to further improve, it is necessary to align the provisions of the Criminal Code with the definition of torture under Article 1 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; to improve the protection of persons deprived of their liberty, first of all people with mental disorders and elderly persons in psychiatric institutions, and social protection institutions of the home-type, to develop a system of continuous training for human rights for all who treat these particularly vulnerable groups, so that certain actions would not become degrading or inhuman. In order to prevent torture, it is particularly important to conduct effective investigations into all allegations of possible abuse, adequate and timely support to all victims of abuse and the certainty of the punishment of the perpetrators.

 

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.