Based on the responses of higher education institutions received so far, the Protector of Citizens determined that most universities in the Republic of Serbia have not adopted the Rulebook on Prevention and Protection against Sexual Harassment, i.e., that higher education institutions, in light of the current events at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Belgrade, are working on its development.
The Protector of Citizens also established that the already adopted rulebook by the University of Belgrade, as an umbrella act on the protection against sexual harassment, provides for a mediation procedure that involves confronting a potential victim and a potential perpetrator, which could lead to re-traumatization, i.e., secondary victimization of the applicant. Therefore, bearing in mind his statutory authority, the fact that in addition to launching and conducting investigations, he also has the right to provide good services in order to improve the work of educational institutions and protect human rights and freedoms, the Protector of Citizens issued an opinion to all higher education institutions in the Republic of Serbia, in which he requested that the mentioned mediation procedure should not be prescribed, i.e., that they should amend the already adopted rulebook.
In that opinion, the Protector of Citizens called on all higher education institutions to adopt the regulations within 30 days from the day of receiving the opinion and reminded that respect for human rights and civil liberties, as well as the prohibition of all forms of discrimination, is the principle on which higher education in the Republic of Serbia is based, which is also prescribed by the Law on Higher Education.
In the opinion, the Protector of Citizens pointed out that universities should, in cooperation with other higher education institutions and civil society organizations, organize trainings for commissioners in order to sensitize them to issues of gender-based violence, gender discrimination, sexual harassment and blackmail, i.e., in order for them to obtain adequate knowledge on the prevalence and consequences of these phenomena.
After submitting the above-mentioned act to all higher education institutions in the Republic of Serbia, the Protector of Citizens will publish his opinion on his website.