Reducing prison overcrowding in Serbia through monitoring, advocacy and sharing of best practices

December 22, 2013

Donor: Open society Instittute

Duration: 2013 – 2015

The Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, with the financial support of the Open Society Institute – Budapest is implementing project “Reducing prison overcrowding in Serbia through monitoring, advocacy and sharing of best practices”. This project is a continuation of the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights’ years-long activities aimed at humanising the penal sanctions enforcement system and improving the status of persons deprived of liberty by ensuring the application of international standards and providing information on examples of good practices. The activities envisaged under this project are a follow-up of a successful three-year project entitled “Suppressing and Punishing Torture in Serbia – From Adopting Legal Standards to Improving Practice“. The BCHR will over the next two years monitor the implementation of the “Strategy for Reducing Overcrowding in Institutions for the Enforcement of Penal Sanctions in the Republic of Serbia in the 2010-2015 Period”, adopted by the Government of the Republic of Serbia in 2010 and the Action Plan envisaging a number of various measures to facilitate the implementation of the Strategy. The BCHR team will analyse the results achieved in the implementation of the Strategy to date and conduct a number of activities to support the decision makers in implementing it more efficiently. The BCHR will also advocate a more pro-active approach by the state authorities to the implementation of the measures envisaged by the Action Plan, notably: amendments of the valid criminal law, greater resort to alternative sanctions and measures alternative to custody, improving the work of the Probation Service, greater resort to suspended sentences and releases on parole, increase in the accommodation capacities of the penal institutions and the reconstruction of the existing penal institutions.

During the project implementation BCHR will cooperate with partner NGO, the Protector of Citizens, the National Prevention Mechanism and other independent institutions. Three largest Serbian penitentiaries will be visited, in which over half of all the convicts are serving their sentences. Round tables will be organised as well rallying the representatives of the key stakeholders involved in implementing the Strategy: the Ministry of Justice and State Administration, notably its Penal Sanctions Enforcement Administration, the judicial authorities (courts and prosecution offices) and the Judicial Academy. During the project, the BCHR will present the results of its research in periodical reports and press releases and at news conferences. It also plans on publishing a manual with good practice examples from other countries. At the end of the project, the BCHR will organise an international conference at which the speakers will present the good practices in this field and the BCHR will present the final results of its research and its recommendations for improving the state authorities’ practices.

The ultimate goal of the project is the adoption of a new strategy for reducing overcrowding in penal institutions in the 2016-2020 period, which will approach the problem of overcrowding in the Serbian penal institutions in the most appropriate manner.

International conference “Alternatives to Incarceration – Towards Reduction of Overpopulation of Penitentiary Institutions”, Belgrade, 26–27 January 2015

Reducing Overcrowding in Penitentiaries in Serbia