Protecting victims and combating impunity of state officials in torture proceedings and strengthening the safeguards against refoulement

March 7, 2019

Donor: United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture
Duration: 1 January – 31 December 2019

 

logo JecaThis project aims to provide predominantly legal but also other (social, medical and psychological) assistance to victims of torture and members of their families. Apart from direct assistance, the activities are directed towards seeking redress for victims, combating and reducing impunity and inefficiency of state authorities in charge of criminally prosecuting state agents accused of torture, and eliminating torture. Additionally, we plan to improve practices that are severely undermining the principle of non-refoulement in asylum procedures, extradition procedures and informal procedures at the Belgrade airport Nikola Tesla.

The project encompasses:

  1. Litigation of cases of torture before the national organs;
  2. Bringing the cases before international bodies (European Court of Human Rights and monitoring mechanisms – CAT, CPT, etc.);
  3. Prevention of expulsion or securing international protection for refugees against refoulment;
  4. Regarding the impunity of state officials, for all identified cases criminal complaints will be filled;
  5. Engagement of medical doctors – forensic specialists and pathologists – to examine, document and report on the injuries, according to the Istanbul protocol for the purposes of litigation;
  6. Research, monitoring and reporting on the state of the prohibition of torture and other forms of ill-treatment in Serbia, as well as on the impunity of state officials for acts of ill-treatment;
  7. Follow-up advocacy and litigation on the implementation of successful decisions from previous cases, including prosecution of perpetrators and compensation for victims

Support to Refugees and Asylum Seekers in the Republic of Serbia

March 6, 2019

Donor: UNHCR Office in Serbia

Duration: January 2019 – December 2019

Building on the successful cooperation with the UNHCR to date, the Belgrade Center for Human Rights (BCHR) will continue with provision of free legal aid to asylum seekers and refugees in the Republic of Serbia in 2019.

Recognizing the need for additional protection of unaccompanied and separated children and the need to continue to provide support to the system in this regard, BCHR introduced a new position of a Child Protection Officer within the legal team. The Child Protection Officer, specializing in the rights of children, will provide child friendly legal counselling and adequate support to unaccompanied and separated children undergoing the asylum procedure in accordance with international standards.

Belgrade Centre for Human Rights will continue to cooperate with national authorities aiming to enhance their capacities in the field of international refugee law, protection of vulnerable groups in the asylum procedure, etc. In cooperation with the Serbian Commissariat for Refugees and Migration, the BCHR field team will continue to conduct regular visits to asylum and receptions centres in order to provide free legal counselling. BCHR will advocate for changes and improvements in the conduct of Serbian authorities regarding the access to the asylum procedure, efficiency of the asylum procedure as well as better integration system for person granted asylum.

In addition to providing legal representation before Serbian authorities, BCHR will strategically litigate cases to international institutions including European Court of Human Rights and UN Human Rights mechanisms in an effort to push for system solutions.

Further to the provision of free legal aid, the BCHR will undertake efforts to raise awareness of citizens and stakeholders on the topics of rights of refugees, international human rights standards, violations of human rights as well as advocate for adequate solutions to the systemic flaws. Analyses of decisions made by authorities in the asylum procedure and integration process will be used for research and monitoring of the respect of human rights standards, to which the Republic of Serbia has committed. BCHR will prepare legal analyses and reports on right to asylum in the Republic of Serbia that will be available at www.azil.rs.

Starting this year, the integration programme of the BCHR will be enriched with project activities focused on youth refugee population. During joint workshops, refugee youth and the local youth population will work together on creation of an animated film. The main aim of the youth component of the project and joint activities of the local and refugee youth population is to break the stereotypes within younger generations, support dialogue between cultures, encourage youth to actively participate in the society, and to develop their talents and acquire additional skills.

Regional cooperation with civil society working in the field of asylum and migration will be further improved through the Balkan Refugee and Migration Council.

 

The Balkan Refugee and Migration Council: Making a pathway for a common Western Balkan migration policy 

February 27, 2019

Donor: Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Serbia

Duration: November 2018 – November 2021

The activities of the Balkan Refugee and Migration Council are aimed at creating a common Western Balkan migration policy, with the goal of providing a coordinated response to common challenges, in line with EU law and international human rights standards. (more…)

Constituencies for Judicial Reform in Serbia

February 19, 2019

Donor: USAID
Duration: January 7th, 2019 – January 6th, 2022
Project Leader: Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights – YUCOM

 

About the project

The overall objective of the USAID supported „Constituencies for Judicial Reform in Serbia“ project, is to strengthen citizens’ confidence in the work of judicial institutions in the Republic of Serbia by improving communication between the citizens and the judiciary.

The Project is implemented by a coalition of 12 organizations engaged in human rights and the development of democracy, as well as professional judicial associations:

  1. Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM);
  2. European Policy Centre (CEP);
  3. Association of Public Prosecutors and Deputy Public Prosecutors in Serbia;
  4. The Network of the Committee for Human Rights in Serbia (CHRIS Network);
  5. Judges’ Association of Serbia;
  6. Transparency Serbia;
  7. Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP);
  8. Partners for Democratic Change Serbia (Partners Serbia);
  9. Belgrade Centre for Human Rights,
  10. Judicial Research Center (CEPRIS);
  11. National Parliament Leskovac;
  12. Forum of Judges of Serbia.

One of the three main goals that the project aims to achieve is to establish proactive relationship between the representatives of the judiciary and the citizens and their better acquaintance with the system itself, which would help citizens to better meet and understand their rights, as well as how to reach them. The project aims to establish this type of relationship through several channels of communication with citizens, which have been adapted to the different social structure of the population, age and education level. This includes communication through a digital platform, digital media and blog posts, as well as through local councils in 15 cities and municipalities in Serbia. Led by the spirit of developed democracies, the project wants to adopt the principle of open dialogue between citizens and the judiciary, and to encourage their greater engagement in local communities. The task of the project is to help citizens to understand their rights, guaranteed by the Constitution, and also to inform citizens how the judicial system works and how judges and prosecutors make fair and rational decisions.

The second goal of the project involves organizations to work on researching and detecting the primary needs of citizens in their everyday practice with the judiciary in Serbia. This activity will try to understand and investigate citizens’ reasons for low level of trust in the judicial system, widely monitoring citizens’ experiences in meeting with the judiciary. As a result of this activity, the coalition on the project will create three comprehensive reports that would serve as a mean of further public policies formulation that support citizens’ needs.

The last goal of the project is to raise the accountability and integrity of judicial institutions. The project aims to work with judicial and civil society stakeholders to enhance the integrity and accountability of judicial institutions through an improved methodology of integrity plans and an open procedure for appeals and free citizens’ complaints, making them more transparent, more accessible and engaging citizens themselves.

DOCUMENTING ABUSE AND COLLECTIVE EXPULSIONS OF REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS

January 22, 2019

izThe number of allegations on collective expulsions from Hungary and Croatia, often including abuse of refugees and migrants began to rise gradually since the closure of the Western Balkans Route (WBR)1, аnd in particular since summer 2016. Abuse included beatings with rubber batons and fists, slapping, kicking, dog bites, use of tear gas, use of rubber bullets, insults, humiliation and intimidation. According to the data of NGO Humanitarian Centre for Integration and Tolerance (HCIT), 212 cases of collective expulsions from Hungary and Croatia involving more than 4,000 foreigners were registered in the period 1 May 2016 – 31 March 2017.2 The international organization Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) continuously published information related to abuse preceding collective expulsions from Hungary. You can download the report here..