Constituencies for Judicial Reform in Serbia

Donor: USAID
Duration: January 2019 – January 2024
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 a 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 means of further public policy 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.

Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Serbia

Donors: Federal Foreign Office via Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Belgrade and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Belgrade
Duration: November 2021 – February 2022

The overall goal of the project is to promote and protect human rights in Serbia through monitoring and reporting on the state of human rights and capacity building of experts and human rights defenders. This project responds to the continuing and growing need and demand for improving the human rights situation in Serbia and training young professionals to get and help Serbia’s transition to a democratic society based on the rule of law, human rights and European values.

The key activities on the project include the organization of the Human Rights School "Vojin Dimitrijević", as well as the creation of the annual report on the state of human rights in Serbia for 2021.

The Human Rights School “Vojin Dimitrijević” is an intensive course on the concept of human rights, restrictions and derogations of rights, prohibition of discrimination, right to life, right to liberty and security of person, right to trial, prohibition of torture, freedom of expression, economic, social, and cultural rights, minority rights and other human rights. Using various methods such as lectures, workshops, case studies and panel discussions, students have the opportunity to hear and learn about the theoretical aspects of human rights, ways of protecting human rights as well as other socially relevant topics. Lecturers are professors, judges, lawyers, representatives of international organizations and activists from civil society organizations. 

The annual reports, published both in Serbian and English, contain a comparison of domestic laws and other regulations with international norms that bind Serbia, and an assessment of their application in practice. Belgrade Centre for Human Rights’ associates regularly monitor the media, reports of domestic and international non-governmental organizations and intergovernmental organizations, laws, strategies, and action plans. Each year, the report points to broader issues, which determine the attitude towards human rights situation. Since these problems and topics change from year to year, Belgrade Centre for Human Rights always emphasizes and analyses those problems that were the most important in the given year.

Protecting Rights of Healthcare Workers

Donor: Balkan Trust for Democracy
Duration: 1 May 2021 – 30 April 2022

The project aims at protecting and promoting the human rights of doctors during and after the Covid-19 pandemics. Practice shows that the human rights of doctors were severely compromised during the fight against the virus, and that there was no adequate prevention or reaction to protect their rights.  With this project, through detailed analysis with recommendations, broad cross-sectoral debate and advocacy activities we want to protect the human rights of doctors and improve their position.

Activities on the project include: conducting research on human rights violations of doctors during the pandemic and development of Analysis; broad cross-sectoral public discussion on violations and finding solutions to identified problems and ways to improve the position of healthcare workers and protect their human rights. Advocacy and promotion campaigns to launch various protection / liability mechanisms for violations of doctors’ rights will be implemented throughout the entire project.

Legal Support to Victims of Police Brutality during the July 2020 Protests and Analysis of Judicial and Prosecutorial Practices in Torture and Ill-Treatment Cases in the January 2018-June 2020 Period

Donor: ECNL – European Center for Not-for-Profit Law
Duration: 1 January-15 June 2021

The ECNL (European Centre for Not-for-Profit Law) is extending support to the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights to implement activities regarding:

  • Extension of legal aid to 18 victims of police ill-treatment during the July 2020 protests;
  • Implementation of a survey on public awareness of human rights in case of arrest and ill-treatment by public officials and of public views of the effects of police brutality during the July protests on the realisation of the freedom of assembly;
  • Preparation of an analysis on actions by the relevant authorities (public prosecution services, the police, the Protector of Citizens, et al) in response to individual complaints of police ill-treatment during the July 2020 protests in terms of the state’s duty to conduct thorough, urgent and impartial investigations;
  • Preparation of an analysis of judicial and prosecutorial practices in torture and ill-treatment cases from 1 January 2018 to 30 June 2020;
  • Development of public outreach materials on documenting torture and ill-treatment and the rights of persons deprived of liberty, which will be published and presented on social networks, in the press and on Internet portals;
  • Development of legislative recommendations and initiatives to amend the law, which will be forwarded to the relevant authorities and the public;
  • Development of a publication summarising the project results.

Balkan Refugee and Migration Council: Security for Human Beings and Borders – Combating Smuggling of Migrants in the Western Balkan

Donor: European Union

Project duration: March 2020 – March 2023

Balkan Refugee and Migration Council and its member organizations have, through this project, focused their attention on one of the burning issues related to migrants in the region – smuggling of migrants. The aim of the project is to lead to the development of a comprehensive regional migration management program based on the needs of protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, through a multidimensional partnership of civil society organizations and state institutions.

Accordingly, 90 civil society organizations will go through a process of developing protection-sensitive practices, legal frameworks and public policies against human trafficking. In this way, civil society organizations, along with the development of cooperation with state institutions, media and educational institutions, will be able to provide support to smuggled migrants. Through advocacy activities, the project strives for closer harmonization of practices and legal frameworks of the Western Balkan countries.

The two main migration routes on the way to the European Union are through Serbia and from the Greek-Albanian border through Bosnia
and Herzegovina to Croatia and Slovenia. The project lead is Group 484, and the implementing partners are the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), the Macedonian Association of Young Lawyers (MYLA), Vaša prava Bosnia and Herzegovina (VP BiH), the Civic Alliance from Montenegro (GAMN), the Albanian Helsinki Committee (AHC) and the Civil Rights Program Kosovo (CRP/K).

Acquainting persons who were granted asylum with Serbian culture, history and Constitution

Donor: Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia

For the second time Belgrade Centre for Human Rights is conducting a program for acquainting persons who were granted asylum in Serbia with Serbian culture, history and Constitution by means of the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia in accordance with the Decree on the manner of inclusion in the social, cultural and economic life of persons who were granted asylum. (more…)