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Statements

Strasbourg, 5 June 2015 – “The current systems of oversight of national security services in Europe remain largely ineffective. Revelations over the last years about security operations which have violated human rights should have prompted reforms in this field, but progress has been disappointingly slow. European countries must now ensure more democratic and effective oversight of what their security services do and avoid future operations leading to new human rights violations,” said today Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for Human Rights, while presenting a report on this topic.

The report intends to provide guidance to strengthen human rights protection in the field of security services. It sets forth a number of measures necessary for making national oversight systems more effective and the security services accountable and fully compliant with human rights standards.  “Security service activities impact a variety of human rights, including the right to life, to personal liberty and security, and the prohibition of torture or inhuman, cruel and degrading treatment. They also impinge on the right to privacy and family life, as well as the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, and fair trial. It is therefore crucial that security services uphold the rule of law and human rights in undertaking their tasks.”

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Protector of Citizens Saša Janković submitted on 14 March the Regular Annual Report of the Protector of Citizens for 2014 to the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, in accordance with the law. The Report among other things concludes that the situation with regard to the rule of law and legal certainty, respect of the good governance principles, organization and capacity of public administration, implementation of laws and, above all, economic situation was such that it was not possible to guarantee a level of respect of citizens’ rights necessary for dignified life for everyone.

Improvements in certain issues in fields such as health care were not sufficient to change the overall evaluation, but they are praiseworthy. The fact that most of the public authorities respond positively to findings of the Protector of Citizens is also praiseworthy. In 90 percent of cases, those authorities rectified omissions in their operations which harmed citizens’ rights and which were identified by the Protector of Citizens in inspection procedures. A total of 23,340 citizens contacted the Protector of citizens in 2014.

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Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Protector of Citizens expresses his satisfaction with the fact that along with the Bill on Amendments to the Criminal Code, which the Government sent to the National Assembly for adoption in urgent procedure, the Protector of Citizens’ initiative for reviewing the statute of limitations for the prosecution of criminal offence against sexual freedom committed against a child was also accepted. The Protector of Citizens proposed that in the cases of criminal offences against sexual freedom committed against a child, the statute of limitations should commence to run when the child reaches the age of majority.

The previous research and practice indicate that in the majority of these cases the time-limitation expires before the child victim comes of age. The perpetrators of such crimes are usually the individuals close to the child, or in a position of power over the child - warns Protector of Citizens and emphasises that the only fair and proper solution is to allow the child to decide whether to prosecute the perpetrator when he/she reaches the age of majority.

At the same time, the Working Group of the Ministry of Justice is expected to continue to work on improving and modernising the Criminal Code, as announced by this Ministry; it is also expected that all other proposals from the Initiative of the Protector of Citizens, referring to gender-based violence and child protection, will be accepted in the near future. Thus, the Criminal Code would be aligned with the National Strategy for Preventing and Combating Domestic and Partner Relationship Violence against Women, the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, and the standards established by the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, which Serbia will, hopefully, accede to soon.

Friday, 3 February 2012

In the procedure of controlling the legality and regularity of work of the Penitentiary-Correctional Institute Pоžаrеvаc – Zаbеlа of the Directorate for Execution of Penitentiary Sanctions of the Ministry of Justice, the Protector of Citizens established errors in work consisting of the violation of mental and physical integrity of the prisoner А.B.

The Protector of Citizens established that the prisoner А. B. was subjected to torture by the officials of the Penitentiary-Correctional Institute Pоžаrеvаc – Zаbеlа, that his injuries were not recorded in the official records, that the Prison Governor was not informed thereof, and that he was not examined by a medical doctor despite visible bodily injuries.

Based on the established deficiencies, the Protector of Citizens ordered the Penitentiary-Correctional Institute Pоžаrеvаc – Zаbеlа to take all available measures to establish the responsibility of the officials for committed violence against the prisoner А.B., for failing to record inflicted bodily injuries and to inform the Prison Governor about committed torture and for failure to provide medical care.

The Protector of Citizens recommended to the Penitentiary-Correctional Institute Pоžаrеvаc – Zаbеlа to protect, in its future work, the right of all persons deprived of liberty to inviolability of mental and physical integrity and to take all available measures to prevent torture or any other form of abuse. In its future work, this institute will also record each individual case of inflicting bodily injuries to persons deprived of liberty, inform immediately the Prison Governor thereof and take the injured person to a medical examination without delay.

The Penitentiary-Correctional Institute Pоžаrеvаc – Zаbеlа is obliged to inform the Protector of Citizens, within 60 days, about the implementation of received recommendation.

The Protector of Citizens informed the Higher Public Prosecutor in Pоžаrеvac about the data collected in the procedure of controlling the legality and regularity of work of the Penitentiary-Correctional Institute Pоžаrеvаc – Zаbеlа.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Protector of Citizens established that the Republic Fund for Pension and Disability Insurance, Branch in Bor grossly violated the rules of administrative procedure and thereby violated the citizen/complainant’s right to good administration, efficient procedure of authorities, a decision based on law and a legal remedy.

The Protector of Citizens has concluded that the error of the Republic Fund for Pension and Disability Insurance, Branch in Bor consisted of its failure to send the necessary findings, assessment and opinion of a medical doctor, an expert witness, to the Social Care Centre in Nеgоtin, as an authority competent to decide upon the submitted request for the recognition of the right to increased allowance for assistance and care of another person. Instead, the Branch sent a notification to the citizen/complainant stating that she was not fulfilling the requirements for the recognition of the right to increased allowance for assistance and care of another person, by which it deprived the complainant, inter alia, of the right to legal remedy.

The Protector of Citizens ordered to the Branch in Bor, in this particular case, to send immediately the necessary findings, assessment and opinion to the Social Care Centre in Nеgоtin and also to send to the citizen/complainant a written apology. It was recommended to the Branch management to undertake all organisational and other measures in order to ensure correct and lawful actions in the best interest of service users, and to inform all employees who conduct administrative procedures about the recommendation given by the Protector of Citizens.

The Branch in Bor is obliged to inform the Protector of Citizens within 30 days on its actions and to provide evidence on sending the expert’s opinion to the Social Care Centre in Nеgоtin and an apology to the complainant.

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