Republic of Serbia should immediately provide a system of protection for unaccompanied or separated refugee and migrant children

June 11, 2019

The Belgrade Centre for Human Rights wants to draw the attention of the public to the fact that the existing system of protection of unaccompanied or separated refugee and migrant children is characterized by numerous systemic issues that need to be addressed without delay. In 2017, the Committee on the Rights of the Child stressed that the Republic of Serbia should urgently ensure the full inclusion of unaccompanied or separated children in the existing child protection system, provide accommodation in foster families or other accommodation facilities adequate for their age, gender and needs, in line with best interest assessments conducted on an individual basis. Placing children in separate centres that are provide safe growing environment and are adequate for their needs represent the minimum requirement to reduce the risks of child exposure to persons who might exploit their vulnerability. In light of the Committee’s recommendations to the Republic of Serbia, it is necessary to undertake urgent measures necessary to protect unaccompanied or separated children from smuggling rings.

The latest case of tragically murdered child illustrates that the current state of affairs does not contribute to the reduction of risks to which unaccompanied or separated children are exposed daily. In addition, we are witnessing the several years long practice of all countries on the so-called Balkan mixed-migration route resorting to violence and collective expulsion of refugees and migrants to neighbouring countries. Such situation further creates the lack of trust of unaccompanied or separated migrant and refugee children in existing protection systems.

This case should be observed primarily from the perspective of the rights of the child who escaped the horrors of war, who has been neglected for years and left on his own. The tragically perished child was a victim of arbitrary deprivation of liberty in the Republic of Serbia in January this year. After the Croatian border police returned him to the territory of the Republic of Serbia, his identity and age were wrongly listed in the police and court records. The misdemeanour procedure was initiated and concluded before the Misdemeanour Court in Bačka Palanka in the course of the same day and without the engagement of an interpreter. Moreover, the acting judge stated in the judgement that the child waived the right to appeal, subsequently leading to a decision replacing the fine with a ten-day long imprisonment.

The case also indicated that the security in the asylum centres is not at a satisfactory level, that children are almost completely unprotected from the contact with smugglers and that this tragic case should be a serious warning to the competent authorities in the Republic of Serbia to establish a special child-friendly accommodation capacities that could fully meet the needs of unaccompanied or separated migrant and refugee children.

The Belgrade Centre for Human Rights expresses hope that this tragic case will urge the Republic of Serbia to undertake all measures without delay with the aim of reducing the risks of repetition of such incidents. A shift in this regard can only be achieved through coordinated actions and cooperation between the Ministry of Interior, the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration and the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans’ and Social Affairs.


May 8, 2019

We, the undersigned,

Recalling that all Serbian authorities are under the obligation to respect the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia,[1]  the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,[2] the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,[3] the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment[4] and other ratified international treaties, as well as rules of international customary law prohibiting torture and inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment in all circumstances. (more…)

Announcement – Human Rights Day

December 11, 2018

Exactly seventy years ago, on 10 December 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration, adopted in response to the atrocities of World War Two, is the first document defining human rights as inviolable and as belonging to all people, regardless of who they are and where they live. Although it is not legally binding, it is the cornerstone of the history of human rights and the development of the international human rights system. (more…)

Save the constitutional guarantee of protection of citizens’ privacy

October 23, 2018

More than 30 civil society organizations supported the text of the amendment to Article 40 of the Personal Data Protection Law and called on the deputies to support an amendment that stipulates that citizens’ rights to the protection of personal data can be limited solely on the basis of the law. If the disputed article of the law is adopted in the present form, there is a danger that authorities or private companies handling personal data may restrict citizens’ rights without explicit legal authority and at their own discretion.

Complete announcement in Serbian, with the proposed amendment can be found HERE.


Announcement regarding the comment Deputy Assembly Speaker and MP Vjerica Radeta posted on her Twitter account

July 25, 2018

The Belgrade Centre for Human Rights most vehemently condemns the comment Deputy Assembly Speaker and MP Vjerica Radeta posted on her Twitter account in response to the passing of Hatidža Mehmedović, the Chairwoman of the Mothers of Srebrenica association. (more…)

Protecting people across borders – NGO statement ahead of the EU-Western Balkans Summit of 17 May 2018

May 14, 2018

On Thursday 17 May, EU Heads of State are meeting their counterparts from the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo) to discuss cooperation in several areas, including migration and security. (more…)