The Protector of Citizens indicated that the Action Plan Proposal (2022-2023) for the implementation of the strategy of prevention and protection against discrimination for the period 2022-2030 still contains problematic wording of certain indicators and that it lacks base and target values, and at the same time welcomed the activities prescribed to improve the position of LGBTI persons.
The Protector of Citizens, in his Opinion on the proposal of this plan, which was submitted to the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights, reminds that he had already pointed out the observed problems earlier in his comments on the working version of the Action Plan Proposal, but that those suggestions were not implemented.
Also, the Protector of Citizens believes that for the improvement of the position of LGBT persons in Serbia, the analysis of comparative legal solutions and the situation in Serbia, which is provided for in the Action Plan Proposal, and refers to protection against discrimination based on gender identity, sexual characteristics and sexual orientation, is extremely important.
Bearing in mind the observed frequent dissatisfaction of citizens with the measurements of the noise level that originates from the performance of various activities, especially those that are carried out in residential buildings, the Protector of Citizens is of the opinion that it is necessary to focus more closely on the organization of work and the manner of work of environmental protection inspectors in local self-government units.
In this regard, the Protector of Citizens sent an Opinion to the Ministry of Environmental Protection on the need to issue an instruction on the application of the Law on Protection from Noise Pollution in the Environment, which will more closely regulate the actions of local inspections in situations where measurements of noise in the environment are ordered and carried out.
The Protector of Citizens sent an opinion to the local self-government units in the Republic of Serbia, in which he invites them to, in accordance with their capabilities, continuously announce competitions for the awarding of student scholarships and to introduce lighter criteria for the awarding of student scholarships to children and young people with disabilities. In this way, local self-governments would improve the position and degree of realization of the right to education of children and young people with disabilities.
Namely, the results of the research of the Association of Students with Disabilities, conducted in 2021, show that a very small number of local self-government units in the Republic of Serbia announce competitions in the above-mentioned manner.
The Protector of Citizens believes that it is necessary to include more lightly defined criteria for giving scholarships to pupils and students with disabilities in all competitions of local self-governments for the awarding of student scholarships, in order to enable inclusive education and upbringing for as many children and young people with disabilities as possible. In this way, these people are supported to realize their full capacities, to become economically independent and fully integrate into society.
The Protector of Citizens asked the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs – Department for Social Protection – Department for Inspection Supervision to promptly conduct inspection supervision over the work of unregistered, i.e., illegal homes for the accommodation of adult and elderly beneficiaries and to take all measures in cooperation with other competent authorities to eliminate the observed shortcomings.
Furthermore, it is necessary for the Ministry to closely monitor whether unregistered homes initiate without delay the procedure for obtaining a license and registration, whether they promptly implement the declared emergency measures, i.e., whether they eliminate other illegalities in their work.
Also, it is necessary for the Ministry to monitor whether unregistered homes comply with the ban on carrying out activities or carrying out activities until the prescribed conditions are met and, if it determines that the controlled subject has not carried out the stated measures, initiate the proceedings before the competent judicial authority in a timely manner, in order to protect the beneficiaries of these institutions.
The Protector of Citizens also issued a recommendation to the Ministry to employ the appropriate number of social protection inspectors in the Department for Inspection Supervision, if, based on the assessment of real needs on the ground, it is established that the improper undertaking of all measures within the scope of the competence of the social protection inspector is a consequence of the insufficient number of employees in relation to the workload. The Ministry was given a period of 30 days to take measures to act on the recommendations.
Old age is the inevitable the destiny of all of us, that's why today it is our duty to care and understand the elderly to make their lives more beautiful and easier, said the Protector of Citizens Zoran Pašalić today, on the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons.
Pašalić added that if we want to ensure a safe and dignified life for our increasingly numerous population of older persons, we must first destroy the harmful stereotypes that the elderly are a burden on society, and secondly, we must not allow them to feel bad or discriminated against because of their age. We must be aware that a large number of elderly people live alone, without regular personal income, and discrimination is manifested in almost all areas. It is difficult for them to access social and health care and various services and support services, their property rights are threatened, as well as pension and disability insurance, and people with disabilities are especially affected, the Protector of Citizens pointed out.
"They are vulnerable, often exposed to violence and neglect, which is why intergenerational support and solidarity is very important to them. It is also important that we perceive them as a social resource, and not as passive beneficiaries of rights and freedoms who are a social burden", emphasized Zoran Pašalić and explained that the elderly population should not be thought of as a problem, but as a potential. Their work and life experience is invaluable, so it is necessary to develop the possibility for their wider social engagement, if they want it.
In recent years, the Protector of Citizens has recorded a constant increase in the number of complaints from citizens about violations of economic and social rights, which is why this institution will work on greater promotion and improvement of the protection of human rights in that area, especially the rights of older women in the countryside, said the Deputy Protector of Citizens for Gender Equality Jelena Stojanovic.
"We will strengthen activities to promote and improve the protection of economic and social rights, above all the rights of elderly women in the countryside, through monitoring the implementation of the Revised European Social Charter", said Stojanović at the beginning of the training for employees of the Institution of the Protector of Citizens, organized as part of the project "Strengthening capacities of the Protector of Citizens in the protection and promotion of economic and social rights", which is supported by the Council of Europe.
Stojanović stated that reporting under the Revised European Social Charter, in relation to other mechanisms for the protection of human rights, implies more frequent engagement with the delivery of specific and detailed information and that such an approach enables more effective monitoring of the implementation of the Charter and the realization of economic and social rights in the member states of the Council of Europe.
The Deputy Protector of Citizens reiterated that the elderly, and especially elderly women in the countryside, are a part of the population that is insufficiently visible and insufficiently heard about their disadvantageous position, primarily in terms of exercising their rights from social and health care as well as pension and disability insurance.
Stojanović said that the Protector of Citizens, through the current project, is trying to develop a functional mechanism for monitoring certain provisions of the Revised European Social Charter and strengthen the capacities for reporting to the European Committee for Social Rights, which implies deepening cooperation with ministries, local self-government units, the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia and with civil society organizations.
The Deputy Head of the Mission of the Council of Europe in the Republic of Serbia, Nađa Ćuk, stated at the training that the Institution of the Protector of Citizens, as an independent institution for the protection of human rights in "A status", has an important role in the promotion and protection of human rights in the Republic of Serbia and a strong mandate in the area of improving the economic and social rights.
Ćuk stated that the Council of Europe supports the Institution of the Protector of Citizens in the area of strengthening the capacity to improve and protect economic and social rights and expressed satisfaction that the work of the Council of Europe within the framework of activities on the protection of human rights is continuously expanding in Serbia.
Representatives of the national institutions for the protection of human rights in Ireland and Slovakia, as well as a representative of the Council of Europe from the Department for Social Rights, presented their work and experiences to the employees of the Institution of the Protector of Citizens.
The Protector of Citizens, Zoran Pašalić, announced today that he will initiate changes to the current legal regulations, which would define special measures for those convicted of crimes against sexual freedom after the end of their sentence and their stay in penal-correctional institutions, in order to prevent them from committing these crimes again.
"I believe that the existing regulations should be amended in order to apply special measures to perpetrators of crimes against sexual freedom, even in cases where adult victims are concerned, such as mandatory reporting to the police and the Administration for the Enforcement of Penal Sanctions, mandatory notification of change of permanent or temporary residence or workplace, mandatory visits to professional counselling centres or institutions, as well as mandatory declaration of intention to travel abroad", Pašalić said.
Special measures would apply to convicts who served their sentences for crimes against sexual freedom against adult persons, Pašalić said regarding the media announcements that attracted a lot of public attention, which said that a person who has committed multiple rapes, i.e., who is a multiple returnee, is at liberty again after serving his sentence, without any monitoring measures towards him.
"Amendments to the existing regulations are necessary because the Law on Special Measures to Prevent Criminal Offences against Sexual Freedoms of Minors, known as the so-called "Maria's law”, adopted in 2013, applies only in cases where the victims of crimes against sexual freedom are minors", said the Protector of Citizens.
The Protector of Citizens determined that the Republic Geodetic Authority (RGA) acted improperly and illegally when it prevented independent geodetic organizations from accessing the e-desk and e-cadastre, even though it did not fulfill its obligation to decide on their complaints.
The Protector of Citizens, after receiving several complaints from geodetic organizations that the RGA terminated their access to the e-desk and e-cadastre without any announcement or explanation, launched a control investigation into the regularity and legality of work of the RGA in January 2022.
In the control investigation, the Protector of Citizens determined that the RGA acted against the law because it violated the complainants' right to a legal remedy and prevented their work before deciding on the appeals.
The Protector of Citizens stated in the recommendations for eliminating the shortcomings that the RGA should without delay provide complainants, who have been issued with decisions on cancellation and deletion from the records, with access to the e-desk and e-cadastre, until the decisions on cancellation and deletion from the records become enforceable.