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b_280_0_16777215_00_images_Panel.jpegThe return to school desks, regular classes and meeting peers during the breaks are principal wishes of elementary and secondary school students all over Serbia expressed by the Institution’s Youth Advisory Panel members in a discussion with Ms. Jelena Stojanović, the Deputy Protector of Citizens for Child Rights.

“We wish to attend school daily and have regular classes. Those of us who enrolled in high schools this year have not yet met the other half of the class. If cafes and clubs are allowed to work, then we may attend school normally as well", states one of the participants in a meeting held via Zoom due to the current epidemiological concerns.

Most of the participants in the meeting confirmed that they missed going to school daily, in-person teaching, as well as the opportunity to immediately ask the teachers anything they were interested in. They also complained about the online classes’ organization, particularly the fact that in some schools, students from one group sent to friends from another group what had been taught at school that day, so the omissions occurred.

Another disadvantage is the fact that they have to prepare on their own for tests in different subjects scheduled in the same week.

Youth Advisory Panel representatives told the Protector of Citizens’ expert associates that due to the organization of classes via the Internet, they had little spare time for socializing and free activities. In their words, they mostly miss socializing at school.

Today, the Protector of Citizens, Mr. Zoran Pašalić pointed out that domestic violence was not a problem of an individual family but of the whole society, and he advocated that victims of domestic violence, most frequently women and children, be provided with an urgent examination by forensic doctors to establish evidence of the committed act and determine a cause-and-effect link between the act and the consequences of the violence.

“We demand that domestic violence victims be enabled to immediately and properly record what happened before going to court, so that it does not happen, what happens in a vast majority of cases, that the victim changes his/her statement during the court procedure” Mr. Pašalić said on the occasion of presenting “Protector of Citizens’ Special Report on the Work of Groups for Coordination and Cooperation in the City of Belgrade territory " in the Palace of Serbia which was attended in-person by nearly 30 representatives of prosecutor's offices, courts, social welfare centers, misdemeanor courts, other state authorities and NGOs, while around 70 participants followed the presentation of the special report via Zoom.

Mr. Pašalić highlighted that check-ups of the domestic violence victims should be carried out at the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Belgrade, but also in other major centers in Serbia, so that even if the victim later changed his/her statement and denied experiencing violence, the perpetrator of the violence would be appropriately punished.

At present, we have a situation where a domestic violence victim goes to the Emergency Center where traumas are identified, but the cause-and-effect link of violence is not established, thus leaving room for the perpetrator not to be punished for the committed acts, Mr. Pašalić added.

The Protector of Citizens stated that such examinations would be affordable and emphasized that he would ask local self-governments, courts, prosecutor's offices and the police to uphold the project, and forensic medicine professors to organize trainings for addressing domestic violence cases.

The Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mr. Gilles Beschoor Plug, stated that domestic violence still existed not only in Serbia but also in all countries, including the Netherlands, and expressed satisfaction that the Dutch Embassy could support such initiatives in our country.

A member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Ms. Genoveva Tisheva, joined the presentation via Zoom application and pointed out that paying attention to violence against women at the time of the pandemics was of critical importance, and that the Committee did not wish for the impunity of the perpetrators to be continued.

She also drew attention to a case pending before the CEDAW Committee based on an application filed by a civil society organization v. Moldova related to domestic violence against a woman with a disability resulting in tragic consequences due to the failure of the competent authorities to take measures. In addition to monitoring the implementation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in the Convention member states and issuing concluding comments and recommendations to the states, the Committee is drafting a Guide for the Implementation of Committee General Comment No. 35 on Gender-Based Violence against Women.

Deputy Protector of Citizens for Child Rights and Gender Equality, Ms. Jelena Stojanović stated that in order to achieve success in preventing domestic violence, in addition to the existing sound normative framework, there was a need for continuous education of employees handling domestic violence cases paired with sufficient number of professional staff in Social Welfare Centers, which the Protector of Citizens has frequently pointed out and required the Ministry of Labor to ensure it.

During the presentation of the report, Ms. Stojanović stated that it was necessary to work on improving the knowledge of all citizens to recognize violence and to react when they notice it, emphasizing that although the report referred to cases in the City of Belgrade, we must reach out to every citizen of Serbia in every part of Serbia.

During the event, Ms. Stojanović and the representatives of the Autonomous Women's Center, Ms. Vanja Macanović and Ms. Tanja Ignjatović, presented the gathered data, conclusions and recommendations.

The special report is the starting point for the project "Effective Policies and Unified Practices in Support to and Protection of Domestic Violence Survivors ", implemented by the Autonomous Women's Center, in cooperation with the Protector of Citizens and the Forum of Judges of Serbia, with the financial support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Protector of Citizens and the NGO Autonomous Women’s Center, with the support of the OSCE Mission to Serbia, drafted the report.

Today, the Protector of Citizens, Mr. Zoran Pašalić, visited the provisional hospital for the treatment of coronavirus patients at the Belgrade Fair to make sure that all the conditions for patients’ accommodation and treatment are met.

Representatives of the Emergency Response Department within the Secretariat of the Protector of Citizens met today with the representatives of national minorities councils in order to be updated on the exercise of individual and collective rights of national minorities during the state of emergency. On that occasion, the National Minority Councils were acquainted with the activities of the Secretariat of the Protector of Citizens during the state of emergency.

The Protector of Citizens, Mr. Zoran Pašalić and employees from the Emergency Response Department visited the refurbished Reception Center in Subotica yesterday, to make sure that all the prescribed conditions for accommodation, food and medical care of our citizens returning from abroad, without a registered address or residence on our territory, and of those individuals deemed a medical or sanitary risk by the border doctors. As previously announced from the Ministry of Defense, pursuant to the Decision on the state of emergency, members of the Serbian Army were deployed to the Reception Center, and in addition to refurbishing the premises, they are in charge of accommodation and medical care of our citizens from abroad.

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