Aid, Support and Solidarity with Ukrainian Youth//Допомога, підтримка та солідарність з українською молоддю

March 7, 2022

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The Youth Programme of the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) is opening its doors and communication channels to assist, support and show solidarity with Ukrainian youth fleeing their war ravaged country in search of refuge, safety and security. Many of them have been on the move for 10 days now, looking for a safer place to live, both inside Ukraine and in neighbouring and other countries, to which, according to UNHCR estimates, over one million people,  over 500,000 of them children,  have fled. Unfortunately, predictions are that the number of displaced Ukrainians will be up to 10 times higher. 

Ukrainian youth are facing numerous challenges brought on by the winds of war – young 18-year-old  men are subject to general mobilisation, while young girls and women are on the move, among hundreds of thousands of people fleeing for their lives. The first Ukrainian refugees arrived in Serbia several days ago; some of them are merely in transit, while others have found refuge and safety with their relatives and friends. All the relevant Serbian institutions and organisations expect that the number of refugees from Ukraine will increase in the coming period. 

This is why BCHR’s Youth Programme has harnessed all its power and resources to extend aid and support, primarily to youth, as well as all other people from Ukraine, who find themselves in Serbia. We are networking with other NGOs extending humanitarian and psychological aid and support and we are in contact with youth organisations in Ukraine, collecting together the aid they now need the most. 

As UNHCR’s partner, BCHR has been extending legal aid and advice free of charge to all refugees and asylum seekers, including those from Ukraine, since 2012. You can contact us for legal aid and advice via our websites bgcentar.org.rs and azil.rs, via our e-mails bgcentar@bgcentar.org.rs and youth@bgcentar.org.rs, and via our social media profiles @bgcentar (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) and @mladibgcentar (Facebook and Instagram). The main information on the rights of refugees and asylum seekers is available on this link  on UNHCR’s platform. You may also find useful the contact details of the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia  and additional BCHR guidance in Ukrainian and Russian.    We call on everyone to support ADRA Serbia’s campaign and send assistance to people who were forced to flee Ukraine via the following website:  www.donacije.rs/projekat/ukrajina-podrska/.

We call on Serbian institutions to do their utmost to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine’s population, to prepare for the potential inflow of refugees from war-torn areas, and to extend humanitarian and all other assistance to states bordering with Ukraine to preclude humanitarian disasters they may face due to the massive influx of refugees. 

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Молодіжна програма Бєлградського центру з прав людини (БЦПЛ) відкриває свої двері та канали зв’язку, щоб допомогти, підтримати та виявити солідарність з українською молоддю, яка біжить зі своєї розореної війною країни у пошуках притулку, безпеки та захисту. Багато з них уже 10 днів перебувають у переїздах у пошуках безпечнішого місця для проживання як усередині України, так і в сусідніх та інших країнах, куди, за оцінками УВКБ ООН, бігли понад мільйон людей, з яких понад 500 000 – діти . На жаль, за прогнозами кількість переміщених українців буде у 10 разів більшою. 

Українська молодь стикається з численними випробуваннями, принесеними вітрами війни – 18-річні юнаки підлягають загальній мобілізації, а молоді дівчата та жінки вимушені вирушити в дорогу, як й сотні тисяч інших людей, що рятуються втечею. Кілька днів тому до Сербії прибули перші українські біженці; деякі з них продовжать шукати притулок, тоді як інші знайшли притулок та безпеку у своїх родичів та друзів. Усі відповідні сербські установи та організації очікують, що кількість біженців з України у майбутній період збільшиться.

Ось чому Молодіжна програма БЦПЛ направила всі свої сили та ресурси на надання допомоги та підтримки насамперед молоді, а також усім іншим людям з України, які опинилися у Сербії. Ми співпрацюємо з іншими НУО, які надають гуманітарну та психологічну допомогу та підтримку, і ми підтримуємо контакт з молодіжними організаціями в Україні, збираючи допомогу, якої вони зараз найбільше потребують.

Як партнер УВКБ ООН, БЦПЛ надає безкоштовну юридичну допомогу та консультації всім біженцям та особам, які шукають притулку, зокрема з України, з 2012 року. Ви можете зв’язатися з нами для отримання юридичної допомоги та консультації через наші веб-сайти bgcentar.org.rs і azil.rs , на електронну пошту bgcentar@bgcentar.org.rs і Youth@bgcentar.org.rs, а також через наші профілі в соціальних мережах @ bgcentar (Twitter , Facebook , Instagram ) та @ mladibgcentar (Facebook та Instagram). Основна інформація про права біженців та прохачів притулку доступна за цим посиланням на платформі УВКБ ООН. Вам також можуть стати в нагоді контактні дані Комісаріату у справах біженців та міграції Республіки Сербія та додаткове керівництво БЦПЛ українською та російською мовами. Ми закликаємо всіх підтримати кампанію ADR RA Serbia та надіслати допомогу людям, які були змушені втекти з України, через веб-сайт: www.donacije.rs/projekat/ukrajina-podrska/.

Ми закликаємо сербські установи зробити все можливе для надання гуманітарної допомоги населенню України, підготуватися до можливого припливу біженців із охоплених війною районів, а також надати гуманітарну та будь-яку іншу допомогу державам, що межують з Україною, для запобігання можливим гуманітарним катастрофам у зв’язку з масовим напливом біженців.

Our new brochure #UspraviSe! for better understanding of human rights and rule of law

Capture naslovna brošura uspraviseWe are pleased to introduce our new brochure #UspraviSe! (#StandUp!) with the aim to bring closer topics related to human rights and rule of law to Serbian citizens, especially to young people.

The brochure is a result of our #UspraviSe! Instagram educational campaign. Using social media style we pointed out the basics of human rights as the foundations of a stable and democratic society where free development of every person is cultivated.

This brochure as well as our Instagram campaign is launched for education purposes, to raise awareness on the importance of human rights, the enjoyment and protection.

Ilustrations and text in this brochure bring together concepts of rule of law, human rights as an universal chategories that must be respected and protected, equality before the law, fair trial, free and fair elections, protection of equality and importance of fighting against discrimination and hate speech…

The brochure is available here in Serbian.

Online campaign and brochure #UspraviSe! is part of Project ‘Improving Culture of Rule of Law and Human Rights among Young People’, that BCHR implements with support of the OSCE Mission in Serbia.

BCHR Presents Its 2021 Human Rights Report

March 6, 2022

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The Belgrade Centre for Human Rights presented its latest annual report Human Rights in Serbia 2021 in the Belgrade Media Center on 3 March. The Report and its main findings were discussed by Report Editor Dušan Pokuševski, Report co-author Ivan Protić, BCHR Executive Director Sonja ToškovićSofija Mandić (CEPRIS), Lana Avakumović (CRTA) and Dragana Milovanović (Disability Rights International, DRI), as well as Political Counsellor at the German Embassy in Belgrade Daniel Mohseni.

Environmental protests were the main events that marked the year behind us, said the Report Editor, Dušan Pokuševski. The spate of protests, from small, local ones to large-scale civic demonstrations across the country, show that Serbia’s citizens are “aware of their human rights and know how to fight for them,” he said, adding that no-one had been called to account for the violence that occurred during last year’s protests. 

“Such impunity has become a trend, if we recall the July 2020 protests, giving rise to a serious question: Who is to protect the citizens and how?” said Pokuševski.

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CSOs and human rights activists were often targeted by pro-regime media and MPs and the physical safety of some human rights champions was at risk in 2021.

BCHR Executive Director Sonja Tošković said that the ongoing pandemic continued impinging on public health and the status of medical professionals in 2021. 

“The impression that the executive dominated over other branches prevailed in 2021. There were no public debates, at least not meaningful ones. A lot of laws were adopted or amended, from the Police Act to the Criminal Code. As opposed to 2020, when economic rights were targeted, 2021 was marked by attempts to stifle political and civil rights,” Tošković said. On the bright side, some headway was made in the field of anti-discrimination, where a large share of civil sector’s comments were upheld, she noted.

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“The Anti-Discrimination Act has been improved and it’s quite good. However, the Act on Same-Sex Unions, criticised by the ruling officials, did not end up in parliament. Surprisingly, the Prime Minister, who has publicly declared that she is a lesbian and has rights others don’t, did not comment the draft law at all,” said Tošković.

Tošković also said that 8% of the children were living in absolute poverty and another 24% of them on the poverty line and that over half of girls from the Roma community married before they turned 18. “Children are victims of online abuse, domestic violence, violence in school,” she said, adding that persons with disabilities were discriminated against on multiple grounds, but that women’s activism has awoken and that women have again mustered the courage to report their abusers. Tošković said that the situation of Roma had not improved during the reporting period, that 20% of the residents of Roma settlements had no or irregular access to drinking water and that 14% of them had no or irregular access to electricity.

One of the authors of the Report, journalist Ivan Protić said that the situation in the media sphere continued deteriorating in 2021, a trend that has been present for a decade now. 

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“True, there were fewer physical assaults than in 2020, but everything else is negative. The Government denied all criticisms. The Prime Minister even said that “journalists are at greater risk in some EU countries than in Serbia”. The fact that the trials for the assassination of Slavko Ćuruvija and the arson of Milan Jovanović’s house are still pending, while the trials for the murders of Milan Panić and Dada Vujasinović have not even begun yet, is the gangrene of the Serbian media scene,” Protić noted.  

He said that a “genuine crusade” was waged against independent reporters and media by the Serbian President, parliament and others supporting the regime, and that the MPs mentioned independent journalists and media in a negative context 199 times in the April-June 2021 period alone.

“The pro-regime media played a major role. Press Council data show that they violated the Press Code of Conduct 50 times a day in June, August and September 2021. Pro-government outlets are rewarded through co-funding of media content. In Niš, as many as 80% of the 69 million dinars set aside for media was allocated to outlets toeing the government line, including the one owned by the son of the intelligence agency director. A Pink journalist now works as a Media Adviser of the Grocka Municipality and earns 125,000 dinars a month,” Protić said.

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Sofija Mandić of CEPRIS said that 2021 was also marked by the process of amending the constitutional provisions on the judiciary, the parliament’s adoption of the amendments in late 2021 and their endorsement at a referendum in early 2022. 

“We also had the appointment of new members of the High Judicial Council and State Prosecutorial Council and the election of the Chief Public Prosecutor and the President of the Supreme Court of Cassation,” Mandić said, qualifying the processes as non-transparent and conducted in a climate characterised by in-house elections, short deadlines and pressures by the Ministry of Justice.  

Lana Avakumović of CRTA said that 2021 was marked by the marginalisation of the citizens and disregard of public interests during the election processes and the collapse of democracy. In her opinion, the parliament was abused for pursuing narrow political purposes and dealing with those critical of the government, such as NGOs, media and individual judges.

” As many as 94% of the comments of the opposition in the parliament were negative, while not a bad word was heard against President Vučić,” said Avakumović, noting that ruling parties took up 94% of airtime on prime-time news on national TV stations.

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Dragana Ćirić of Disability Rights International (DRI), the organisation that published its report “Serbia’s Forgotten Children” about the neglect of institutionalised children in June 2021, warned that the pandemic has disproportionately affected persons with disabilities living in residential institutions.

She said that DRI had failed to obtain data on deaths of the institutions’ residents during the pandemic. “Serbia jeopardised the lives of thousands of persons with disabilities. They are one of the groups at greatest risk of poverty,” said Ćirić.

The Human Rights in Serbia 2021 Report is available HERE

The research, translation and publication of the Report ’Human Rights in Serbia 2021’ were supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany through the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Belgrade. The report does not necessarily reflect the official position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Watch the presentation of the 2021 Human Rights Report at the following link:

AHRI Statement on the Russian aggression against Ukraine

March 4, 2022

Capture AHRI logoThe Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, as the only non-governmental organization that is a full member of the global network of the Association of Human Rights Institutions (AHRI), publishes AHRI statement on the Russian aggression against Ukraine:

We, the Association of Human Rights Institutes (AHRI), as a global network of academic human rights institutes, stand in solidarity with Ukraine and voice grave concern over aggression by the Russian Federation against the sovereign State of Ukraine.

The 24th of February 2022 marks a dark date for the twenty-first century. The decision of the Russian Federation to breach the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine, to put the fate of millions of Ukranian and Russian people at risk, is an indisputable violation of the fundamental principles of the UN Charter and poses a direct threat to countless rules of international law, including international human rights law and international humanitarian law. We recall AHRI’s Potsdam Declaration where mutual cross-fertilization of these two branches of international law has been underlined.

The Russian Federation and Ukraine both have committed to upholding the UN Charter, the sovereign equality of all Member States, and Article 2(4) which prohibits the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of other States. Both states are also members of the Council of Europe, the OSCE and subject to a range of agreements directed toward preserving peace, security and human rights. The Russian Federation’s invasion of sovereign Ukrainian territory is a clear violation of international law and endangers the postWorld War II peace architecture that has prevailed over Europe these last seven decades.

The Russian Federation is bound, also, by seven of the core UN human rights treaties as well as the European Convention on Human Rights. We recall the position of the Human Rights Committee that States parties of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights who are engaged in acts of aggression as defined in international law, resulting in deprivation of life, violate ipso facto the right to life as protected by Article 6 of the Covenant. Each step the Russian Federation takes in Ukraine negates its commitment to respect and protect the rights of civilians in Ukraine and those in Russia who are unable to safely voice their opposition to their government’s actions. This unprecedented use of force and blatant breach of the UN Charter, the Charter of Paris, and the Helsinki Final Act brings suffering and misery to Ukraine and its people. A country that laboriously paved its path towards democracy. A country that in 1994 gave up its nuclear arsenal. A country that has sought to ensure peace and prosperity through the bonds of international agreement and cooperation.

Until the Russian Federation halts this course of action, many lives will be lost, many people will be internally or internationally displaced, children will be deprived access to education, healthcare, and safety. Ukrainian people will lose their homes, their forms of livelihood and their rights to be secure. There have already been documented indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure.

As an international network of human rights institutes, we cannot stand silent. We strongly condemn the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine. We will use our network and undertake all actions at our disposal to help Ukrainian citizens.

We call on the Russian Federation to immediately cease hostilities in Ukraine. Until that point, we call on the Russian Federation and its armed forces to respect rules of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. We call on our governments and international organizations to take all steps that may stop the war and to help Ukraine and its people.

We urge all relevant actors to document atrocities and violations for future accountability.

We call on Russian academics and human rights institutes to fight misinformation and to speak the truth when international law arguments are misused and abused.

When peace is finally achieved, Ukraine will need the world, Europe and the support of all of us to rebuild. Not simply their physical surroundings, but their faith in the rule of law and its aims to promote peace.

We stand in solidarity with Ukraine, with our academic colleagues and students.

28 February 2022

AHRI Statement on Russian Aggression against Ukraine in English is HERE.

New Report ‘Human Rights in Serbia 2021’

March 3, 2022

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Our new Report ‘Human Rights in Serbia 2021’ presents a comprehensive overview and analysis of the situation in Serbia last year. Exposed to constant internal political tensions, traumatised by everyday incidents, scandals and verbal and physical violence, Serbia has become a deeply polarised society. The year behind us was marked by numerous protests, strikes and other forms of organisation, the last recourse of citizens whose rights were jeopardised or violated. 2021 was also marked by the process of amending the constitutional provisions on the judiciary, ending with the adoption of the amendments by the National Assembly and their endorsement at a referendum held in early 2022.

Nevertheless, the government’ persistent refusal to engage in meaningful dialogue, above all with the citizens, remained the crucial problem permeating all social processes and manifesting its most drastic forms and effects in the field of human rights.

The numerous problems concerning the rule of law, exacerbated by the increasingly manifest primacy of the executive undermining the separation of powers and the breakdown of the institutions, continued in 2021.

The general opinion is that Serbia still lags substantially behind European and global trends despite its headway in adopting environmental legislation. Serbia ranked 9 th on the global list of pollution-related deaths and 1st on the list of European countries by death rates from
combined pollution risk factors. Such a situation and lack of interest of the authorities to take urgent steps to address numerous environmental problems prompted environmental protests across Serbia throughout the year.

Report ‘Human Rights in Serbia 2021’ is available HERE.

The research, translation and publication of the Report ’Human Rights in Serbia 2021’ were supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany through the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Belgrade. The report does not necessarily reflect the official position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany.

 

Seeking asylum in Serbia (русские субтитры) (українські субтитри)

March 1, 2022

Capture azil ukrajinski i ruskiMore than 660,000 refugees have now fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries in the last 6 days. The situation looks set to become Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century, and we have reinforced our operations to respond as quickly and effectively as possible.

The first refugees from Ukraine also reached Serbia. According to Vladimir Cucic from the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration  Republic of Serbia, they are mostly in transit here or staying with relatives and friends.

BCHR remind on video for asylum seekers in Serbia in Ukrainian and Russian.