From Law-breaking to Law-making!

November 30, 2013

Donor:  Foundation Open Society Institute.

Duration: April 2012 – April 2013

ApsArt, YUCOM and Belgrade Centre for Human Rights implemented a one-year project “From Law-breaking to Law-making”. The goal of the project was to enable the prisoners in Serbian penitentiary institutions to influence the changes of the Law on execution of criminal sanctions through theatre practice! Project had several phases:

  • Workshops in two prisons: OY Novi Sad and KPY Sremska Mitrovica.
  • Production of legislative theatre play performed by ex-prisoners and one professional actor. The concept of a Forum theatre play is applied to allow the audience to actively participate in the problem analysis and problem solving.
  • Tour of the performance in several prisons and public spaces in Serbia
  • After the tour project’s legal team transformed all of the proposals gathered from the audience into a legal discourse – proposals for change, additions of the law etc.
  • Ten selected proposals sent to almost 4000 prisoners, besides experts and NGOs for VOTE.  Three chosen as the most urgent and important.
  • Chosen proposals presented in the National assembly and to the wider public.

 This project was unique because:

  • It will produce the very first law initiative by civilians in Serbia!
  • This is the first time worldwide Legislative Theatre is done with prisoners on such a large scale. Almost all of the big prisons in Serbia were visited and gather stories from hundreds of prisoners.
  • This is the first time in Serbia that ex-prisoners (our team members) return to prisons in the role of a trainer of development programs and help their ex-prison colleagues to do something good for themselves.
  • This is the first time in Europe that the prisoners get a chance to change the Law by which they are institutions for a prison sentence.
  • This is the first time in the world that such a project got that much support from the prison population itself in the early beginning! For just a few weeks we already have hundreds of applications by the prisoners for our theatre workshops held in biggest prisons in Serbia!

The Serbian Ombudsman Saša Janković has given full support to this project. After the first visit to two prisons more than 20% of the total number of prisoners had applied to take an active part in the project!