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Activities

Deputy Protector of Citizens for Gender Equality Jelena Stojanović waved rainbow flags from the building of this institution on the occasion of 17 May, the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, in support of citizens of different sexual orientation and gender identity who often face violations of rights, violence and discrimination in Serbia.
LGBTI persons are still exposed to attacks and threats, they are often victims of stereotypes, prejudice, hate speech and hate crimes, and there is a high degree of intolerance of the young towards persons of different sexual orientation and gender identity, the Protector of Citizens, Zoran Pašalić said with reference to the celebration of this international day.

The Protector of Citizens notes a specific problem of young LGBTI persons who, after their parents and family find out about their sexual orientation, have to leave their homes. This problem came to the fore during the current Covid-19 virus pandemic, given that there are currently no safe houses or other temporary care services in Serbia, or any other measures and services for young LGBTI persons in this situation.
The Protector of Citizens asserts that it is important to amend the most important legal regulations in the Republic of Serbia to improve the position and protection of LGBTI persons, and reminds that the essential measures of the

Action Plan for the Implementation of the Strategy for Prevention and Protection against Discrimination 2018-2021 have not been implemented and that the plan ceased to have effect last year, while the new one has not been adopted yet.
In the first place, it is necessary to make amendments to the Criminal Code with which the offences on the basis of sexual orientation and gender equality will also be incriminated in all criminal offences the aim of which is punishingand preventing racism and intolerance.

In addition, amendments to the Law on Police are necessary in order to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation as well. The Protector of Citizens reminds that in the Regular Annual Report for 2019, he reissued the

Recommendation to the Serbian Ministry of Interior to provide training for police officers to sensitize them to LGBTI population, identify hate crimes, among other things, on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and to properly respond and thus prevent secondary victimization of LGBTI persons and identify perpetrators of the attacks on those persons.

The Law on Free Legal Aid, despite several Recommendations by the Protector of Citizens, did not introduce, as a category of vulnerable beneficiaries, the LGBTI persons facing serious violations of rights in various spheres of life.

The Law on Textbooks does not enlist a provision containing an explicit prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, nor an explicit prohibition of content inciting the prejudices and stereotypes, nor are employees of educational institutions trained to sensitize and treat LGBTI persons appropriately.

The Protector of Citizens also highlights that in Serbia same-sex communities and consequences of gender-adaptation (change) and gender identity are not legally regulated, and there is still a noticeable problem related to maintaining hormonal status of transgender persons. In the Protector of Citizens’ report for 2019, the Recommendation to the Government of Serbia on the need to regulate the legal consequences of adapting (changing) gender and gender identity was reissued and a Recommendation was issued to the Ministry of Health to take measures to implement the program of depatologizing trans identity pursuant to the review of World Health Organization’s International

Classification of Diseases (ICD), which removed the transgender identity from the list of mental illnesses.
When it comes to the protection of the rights of intersex persons, the Protector of Citizens pointed out in the Report for 2019 that the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination and other relevant Laws do not contain a provision that explicitly prohibits discrimination against intersex persons, i.e. discrimination based on sex features, even though, in the Third Cycle of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review on 24 January 2018, the Republic of Serbia received a Recommendation to include in the regulations the protection of LGBTI persons from discrimination based on intersex status.

The International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia is marked in memory of the day in 1990, when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the list of diseases.

The unscrupulous insults recently targeted at Dr. Darija Kisić Tepavčević, the deputy Director of the Institute for Public Health Dr. Milan Jovanovic Batut, via social networks, calling her the most defamatory names and commenting on her appearance and origin in the most primitive way, once again confirmed how firmly and deeply rooted misogyny is in our society, Mr. Zoran Pašalić, the Protector of Citizens says.

Along with other doctors, Dr. Kisić Tepavčević informs the public daily about the situation regarding the corona virus epidemic (COVID - 19) in Serbia and she became the victim of the most shameless attacks, just because she is a woman. That is clear from the content of the messages and comments directed at her, which exclusively assess, condemn and attack her physical appearance. As a rule, women are exposed to this sort of comments, especially those in important and responsible positions, which unequivocally speaks of the community’s intolerant and discriminatory attitude towards women.

Mr. Pašalić highlighted that the degree of hatred to which women are exposed in public is worrying. The fact that her professional references cannot be a woman’s only measure and criterion for performing important functions, and consequently her public appearances, is also worrying.

The Institution of the Protector of Citizens has warned before that the public space in Serbia is impermissibly tolerant of sexist statements and attitudes. Mr. Pašalić said that he wanted to take that occasion to draw attention to the necessity of eradicating such speech and he called on the public life participants primarily, then the citizens and social network users to refrain from statements and comments which insult, humiliate and attack; urging at the same time the authorities to fiercely oppose such a practice.

November 8th, 2019

Today in Niš, the Protector of Citizens Zoran Pašalić said that it was necessary to form the Balkan Ombudspersons Association.

The flow of persons and goods, and communication in general in the region is at such a level that problems could be solved in a faster and more efficient way through the cooperation of ombudspersons or human rights protection institutions, Pašalić explained.

There are many examples of this, and the latest one is the case of the Burmazović family. What was not visible was the extraordinary and great cooperation between the Ombudsmen of Serbia and Turkey, which resulted in an epilogue that made us all happy, said Mr. Pašalić at a conference that brought together the Protectors of Citizens of the Balkan countries.

He said there were examples of problems, which citizens abroad were trying to solve for months, sometimes for years, and through the cooperation of Protectors of Citizens, the problem in question was solved in less than a month.

The Protector of Citizens also stated that although the Institution existed for 10 years, the citizens were not familiar with their rights and the possibility to exercise their rights through the Institution of the Protector of Citizens. Hence, constant contact with the citizens, visits to places in Serbia and establishment of the Department for Emergent Response that provides urgent and instant reaction the moment the problem appears, Mr. Pašalić said.

Ombudsman added that a significant number of citizens’ complaints refer to non-observance of trial within reasonable time, non-enforcement of court decisions and the right to a fair trial. It is a shocking fact that out of the total number of court decisions in the cases of Serbian citizens in the Strasbourg court, 82 percent refer to the trial within a reasonable time, Mr. Pašalić said.

During the last 19 months, the Institution of the Protector of Citizens realized the project “Increasing accessibility of the Protector of Citizens to the citizens living in the interior of Serbia’’ that particularly dealt with the national minorities problems, the Ombudsman reminded. Within this project, the Protector of Citizens visited 19 towns and municipalities in Serbia (Dimitrovgrad, Bosilegrad, etc…) to contact the citizens directly and to hear their complaints.

Most frequently, the protection of national minorities rights boils down to the protection of the right to use the language, scripts and the protection of the rights to education in the mother tongue, Mr. Pašalić stated.
He added that it was good that there was no systematic violation of human rights.

During a two-day regional conference in Niš, representatives of the Ombudspersons offices in the countries of the region - Serbia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Northern Macedonia, Greece, Turkey and Romania - exchanged their experiences regarding the accessibility of their institutions to citizens, national minorities position in Serbia and in the region, monitoring the activities in combating trafficking in human beings in the Republic of Serbia and strengthening the Protector of Citizens Institution in accordance with the Venice Principles.

 

Ombudsman cooperation in the region is of the utmost importance in the protection of human rights, especially useful through the exchange of experiences in work with the aim of improving good practices and the efficiency of independent institutions, said the Protector of Citizens, Zoran Pasalic, in cnversation with the Romanian Ombudsman, Renate Weber, who with her associates paid a two-day working visit to the institution of the Protector of Citizens. In addition to the Secretary General of the expert service of the Protector of Citizens, Olja Jovicic, the Ambassador of Romania in Belgrade H.E. Oana-Cristina Popa also attended the talks.

Pasalic expressed his expectation that the new Draft Law on the Protector of Citizens will be in the legislative procedure and informed Webber about organizational changes in the institution after the systematization in December 2018, especially about the function of the new organizational unit –Department for urgent action. The Romanian Ombudsman showed special interest in the competences and authorities of the Protector of Citizens and the international cooperation with ombudsmen from the region.

Speaking to the Romanian Ombudsman and the Protector of Citizens, the vice-president of the National Assembly, Djordje Milicevic, expressed his satisfaction that the good political and parliamentary cooperation between Serbia and Romania is accompanied by good cooperation between these two independent institutions. He welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Protector of Citizens of the Republic of Serbia and the Ombudsman of Romania, as well as the establishment of the Network of Balkan Ombudsmen. In the conversation, he emphasized the importance of successful cooperation of the Protector of Citizens with the National Assembly, which elects the Protector of Citizens and to whom he is responsible for his work.

Zoran Pasalic said at the press conference at the Serbian Parliament, after meeting with the Parliament's vice-president, Djordje Milicevic, and the Ombudsman of Romania, Renate Weber, that the Ombudsman's contact with the Parliament is important and that the Ombudsman is an advisor to the Serbian Parliament who, by communicating the results of his work and experience and by speaking openly to the Members of Parliament about what systematically or individually bothers Serbian citizens, indicates what needs to be changed in order to align the regulations with the needs of the citizens. These institutions have an obligation to strengthen the protection of our citizens in Romania and Romanian citizens in Serbia through contact. Independent ombudsman institutions are at the disposal of citizens and in protecting their rights, the citizens can contact us, Pasalic said.

The Ombudsman of Romania, Renate Weber, stated that the Ombudsman's institution is crucial for all democratic societies, and that mutual exchange of work experience is of the utmost importance, especially in order to promote good practice and efficiency of independent institutions in Serbia and Romania.
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24 Sep

On the second day of the visit, representatives of the National Council of the Romanian National Minority spoke about the position of the Romanian national minority in Serbia, as well as the problems they face on a daily basis, while representatives of the NPM and the Department for urgent action spoke about the work and typical cases from these organizational units.

The Protector of Citizens, Zoran Pasalic, spoke today with 20 citizens from Belgrade and Serbia within the “Open doors” activity, who mostly complained about the violation of social protection rights, as well as the work of the Pension and Disability Insurance Fund and the cadastre. The “Open doors” day, as a regular monthly activity of this institution, was organized for the ninth time this year, and more than 25 times in total, during which the Protector of Citizens spoke with over 1300 citizens from Belgrade and the interior.

A personal interview with citizens dissatisfied with the work of public authorities in Serbia enables the Protector of Citizens to have an immediate and more accurate insight into the everyday problems which citizens face because of violations of their guaranteed human and minority rights.

Acting assistant secretary general of the Protector of Citizens, Jablanka Tabas, said today that since the establishment of the institution, 120 citizens of Sjenica addressed the Protector of Citizens, and that 90 complaints have been filed, all of which have been closed.

The visit to Sjenica is the twelfth of the thirteen planned visits that we are implementing as part of the “Day of the Protector of Citizens” campaign. The number of complaints received from Sjenica is lower than the average number of complaints from other cities and municipalities in Serbia. This is precisely why we are in Sjenica today, said Tabas, to inform the citizens about exercising their rights and to encourage them to file complaints about the work of public authorities in a situation where they believe their rights are being threatened.

Jablanka Tabas spoke with Mayor of the municipality of Sjenica, Hazbo Mujovic, and his associates, about continued cooperation in the field of protection of human and minority rights. The meeting was also an opportunity to speak with the representatives of the local self-government about citizens' complaints received that morning by representatives of the expert service of the Protector of Citizens.

During the day, acting assistant secretary general Jablanka Tabas and Dragana Grabovica held a meeting with representatives of public companies and the non-governmental sector and outlined the work of the Protector of Citizens in the field of protection of human and minority rights.

Citizens of Bujanovac spoke with Zoran Pasalic today, the Protector of Citizens, as part of the “Ombudsman Days” campaign, and they mostly complained about labor disputes and the fulfillment of their rights in the field of pension insurance, as well as about problems with public utility services, while representatives of the local self-government emphasized the problems of lack of respect for human rights and the slow work of the judiciary.

The Republican Ombudsman urged all citizens who have trouble registering in electoral rolls to personally contact the institution of the Protector of Citizens. Registration in electoral rolls is a right of all citizens, said Zoran Pasalic.
At a meeting with representatives of the local self-government, he emphasized that cooperation between the institution of the Protector of Citizens and local authorities in Bujanovac is very good, but that there is always room for improvement, noting that the Protector of Citizens is there to improve communication and cooperation between the republic and local authorities. He said that through the local offices of the Protector of Citizens in Bujanovac, Presevo and Medvedja, so far, several problems have already been addressed, such as the official use of languages in state institutions or problems with textbooks.

Mayor of the municipality of Bujanovac, Shaip Kamberi, said that one of the biggest problems that citizens face in that local self-government is the lack of respect for human rights, which includes the removal of citizens from single electoral rolls, which is also related to their removal from the resident register. Kamberi also added that the local self-government received complaints about the slow work of the courts, citing as an example that the municipality of Bujanovac this year paid 8.5 million dinars from the budget for a process initiated in 1986.

He also assessed that the local self-government has good and regular communication with the Protector of Citizens of the Republic of Serbia and that he expects that the cooperation will continue and contribute to solving all problems.
The Protector of Citizens, Zoran Pasalic, said that most of the citizens of these municipalities have so far complained about similar things as citizens in all other cities and municipalities in Serbia, and that these complaints relate primarily to the work of the state administration, largely to the fulfillment of the right to an old-age pension or to the slow work of the courts.

Citizens may approach the Republic Ombudsman regarding issues with the fulfillment of any of the rights that are guaranteed to them by the law, he reminded.

According to the records of the local office of the Republic Ombudsman in Bujanovac, in the ten years of its existence, there were only 200 complaints, while since the beginning of the year, 221 citizens have addressed that office, with a total of five complaints. As it was pointed out, this is a lower average of citizens' complaints than in other municipalities and cities with similar population, which is why the Ombudsman once again urged citizens to contact him in case of disrespect of their rights.

From the beginning of the year, there were 551 citizens' complaints in the offices of the Republic Ombudsman in Bujanovac, Presevo and Medvedja, of which 182 in Presevo, 221 in Bujanovac and 42 in Medvedja.
Zoran Pasalic also met with representatives of non-governmental organizations in Bujanovac today, representatives of public enterprises, as well as with the President of the National Council of the Albanian National Minority, Ragmi Mustafa.

The Republic Ombudsman is visiting 13 local self-governments within the “Days of the Ombudsman” campaign. The visits are implemented within the project of increasing the accessibility of the Protector of Citizens to citizens living in the interior of Serbia. The project is implemented by the Protector of Citizens of the Republic of Serbia with the financial support of the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in Serbia.

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani

Location: Geneva
Date: 5 May 2015

Serbia

We are concerned by the continued and increasing pressure by Serbian authorities, including members of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, on Ombudsperson Sasa Jankovic. Such pressures first emerged following his investigation of alleged wrongdoing by the country’s Military Security Agency (VBA), in January this year, and have intensified since the publication of his latest Annual Report on Serbia, on 14 April 2015.

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