b_280_0_16777215_00_images_20170525.jpgThe tretment of people with mental disabilities who are confined in institutions is unfavorable and difficult and these people represent one of the most vulnerable groups in Serbia, said today Acting Ombudsman Milos Jankovic at the two-day conference of the Network of National Preventive Mechanisms (NPM) of the countries of South Eastern Europe, organized by the Ombudsman in Belgrade.

Armenia.jpgThe Ombudsman delegation on 22 and 23 December 2016 organized a study visit to the Ombudsman of Armeniain in Yerevan.

Special attention during the visit was dedicated to the realization and protection of rights of persons deprived of liberty and reviewing mode of Armenia NPM. On that occasion there were conducted joint visits to institutions where persons are deprived of their liberty (prison and police custody).

The delegation of the Ombudsman was able to familiarize himself with the powers of the Ombudsman of Armenia and good practices and models in contact with the citizens, such as offices for fast responses and telecast on case reports from the work of this institution, which is broadcast weekly on national television.

The visit was organized at the invitation of Dr Arman Tatoyan, human rights defenders of Armenia, who confirmed their readiness to expand cooperation in the field of human rights protection.

The preventive approach to protecting the human rights of refugees and migrants in the countries of South Eastern Europe was the theme of the meeting of South-East Europe National Prevenitve Mechanisms Network (SEE NPM Network), held on 13 and 14 December 2016 in Belgrade.

b_280_0_16777215_00_images_Zira.jpgDeputy Ombudsman Milos Jankovic at the meeting stressed that Europe did not bring a uniform policy for addressing migrant crisis, but the countries were protecting their own interests. Janković said that during 2015, nearly one million people passed through our country. Serbia, in its liberal approach, enabled the smooth entry and passage of refugees and migrants through the country. As he said, NPM's are one of the few institutions in the countries of Eastern Europe, who have done their job within its mandate - followed the attitude of state authorities towards refugees, and whether there has been abuse of these people.

On the first day of the meeting members of the Network shared experiences from visits of the shelters in countries of origin, as well as future plans and challenges related to the protection and promotion of the rights of refugees and migrants. After the presentation, the meeting participants, divided into two groups, visited the Asylum Center in Krnjaca, as well as an informal meeting place for migrants in Belgrade. On the second day, members of the Network shared their impressions and observations from visits in Belgrade and discussed the future challenges in the work of the Network, after which some further steps of NPM's in the region were appointed, in relation to the prevention of abuse of refugees and migrants.

The regional meeting of the Network was organized by the Serbian Ombudsman in cooperation with the UN Office in Serbia and the participants were representatives of the members of the Network, as well as representatives of associations from Serbia.

Ab_280_0_16777215_00_images_opcat1.jpgs long as one person deprived of liberty is the victim of abuse in Serbia, the country must continue to work on the prevention of torture in prisons and social welfare institutions, said the Deputy Ombudsman for the rights of persons deprived of their liberty and coordinator of the NPM Milos Jankovic in the Media center. He said that the team of the NPM last year was in several unannounced visits to prisons in Serbia, where they entered the prison areas that are under the special regime of security and talked with about 200 prisoners and none of them said that he was beaten. We cannot say that torture does not exist in Serbia, but it is encouraging that out of 200 interviewed said that no one was beaten. If we compare with previous data, when the convicts and detainees complained that they were beaten, this is a major shift, said Jankovic.

On today's celebration of ten years from the entry into force of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) he said that this protocol provides for the establishment of a system of regular visits of independent international and national bodies to places where persons are deprived of their liberty.

Regarding 26 June, UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the Protector of Citizens recalls that the prevention of torture and uncompromising confrontation with the appearance of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment are not only the questions for fulfillment of international obligations of Serbia, but also a prerequisite for the preservation of the dignity of all citizens and the basis of democracy of the country.

Victims of torture are primarily persons deprived of their liberty, which are deprived of their freedom, or limited, due to decision or with the explicit or tacit consent of state authorities. This group includes the person who kept the police, those who are serving a prison sentence, and those who are in social and health care. Restrictions on the freedom of such persons, as well as closure of institutions in which they are creating an effective opportunity to be victims of torture, states Protector of Citizens.

National Mechanism for Prevention of Torture (NPM) Serbia in his previous work carried about 350 visits to places where persons are or may be deprived of their liberty and addressed over 1000 recommendations for corection of the identified deficiencies. Although many examples of improving the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty, the Republic of Serbia needs to develop a system of continuous training on human rights for decision makers and all the officials who directly treat persons deprived of their liberty, in particular as regards the prohibition of torture and other forms of ill-tretment, stresses the Protector of Citizens.

UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as one of the key instruments in the fight against torture, entered into force on 26 June 1987. Till today, the Convention has been ratified by 159 UN member states.