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.