On the 21st of April, 2015 Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights-YUCOM reported to the Vracar Police Department of the Ministry of Interior unidentified persons for attacking and gravely injuring G. M. on the 16th of April, 2015. Upon receiving the information, police officers of the PD Vracar have identified two persons who allegedly committed the attack.
Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights – YUCOM, with all due respect for the Ministry of Interior’s call for citizens of the Republic of Serbia to decommission of weapons, expresses concerns about the way in which this Ministry has organized the action.
We want to remind that based on the newly adopted Law on Weapons and Ammunition the Ministry of Interior have called upon citizens to decommission all weapons and ammunition to the nearest police departments within the territory of Serbia in the next three months starting from March 4, 2015. Regarding the fact that the weapons and ammunition, including the explosive devices, are being decommissioned by the persons who haven’t been trained to use it, nor have the license for possessing, they are endangering the lives and physical integrity of both citizens and police officers by carrying them to the police station.
It came recently to our attention that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe put on its agenda election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Serbia set for 27 January 2015.
On behalf of NGOs Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights and Belgrade Center for Human Rights, we are writing to express consternation of the civil society in Serbia with candidates proposed for this high post and the non-transparent and discriminatory procedure for their selection...
False allegations against the Serbian war crimes prosecution and the enforced retirement of the prosecutor suggest that powerful people are still trying to hide the truth about the 1990s conflicts.
In the shadow of global events, the tragic attack in Paris, as well as the mass killing in Nigeria, when we look closely at someone else's backyard, it is our duty to look at our own yard too, to see what we have done about the 1990s, when similar news was coming out of our country, when just like today innocent people were targeted because of religion, hatred, warmongering propaganda and someone’s interests.
Civil society organization Safe Pulse of Youth has presented within the project Coalition for Equality – STEP a new publication titled „On the other side of homophobia: Analysis of the life experiences of LGBT persons in Serbia and recommendations for lowering discrimination“.
Twenty people were interviewed in the course of preparing this publication, in order to attain the personal confessions of LGBT people. These confessions were then classified into three categories, in order to emphasize the numerous difficulties that LGBT people face in everyday life – in the family home, at school and at work.
The focus of the publication is in three parts: in the first part of the publication the stigma and discrimination that LGBT people face in Serbia is described; then the psychological problems that this discrimination leads to, and in the final part recommendations were made as to how discrimination can be lowered.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC STATEMENT
17 December 2014
AI Index: EUR 70/019/2014
Serbia: Release detained human rights activists
Amnesty International is concerned about reports on the arrest and detention of nine Bulgarian nationals, a Slovak and a Finnish national by the Serbian authorities, in what appears to be attempts to prevent the holding of peaceful demonstrations.
The individuals, who had reportedly travelled to Serbia to participate in peaceful demonstrations against the Chinese authorities’ actions towards Falun Gong practitioners during a summit of leaders from Central Eastern Europe and China in the capital Belgrade, were taken from their hotels by police and detained.
Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights - YUCOM wants to invite you to the final annual conference "The Challenges of Free Legal Aid Providing and the Mechanisms for Combating Hate Crimes" which will be held in the Media Center Belgrade (Terazije 3, Big Hall, at the first floor) on Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 12 p.m.
The activities and results of YUCOM’s work on improving the protection of human rights in Serbia in 2014 will be presented at the conference. Taking into account this year's focus on the issues relating to citizens’ access to justice, as well as problems and challenges in combating hate crimes, the panelists will present their experiences and challenges in legal representation in 2014, particularly in relation to ineffective response of the system in cases of injuries human rights.
The Hague Tribunal is releasing the Serbian ultra-nationalist Vojislav Seselj because he has cancer and his health is deteriorating, although his marathon trial is not yet over.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, on Thursday granted provisional release to Vojislav Seselj, who has been on trial for 11 years for war crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia during the 1990s.
The ICTY said it was releasing the head of the Serbian Radical Party on humanitarian grounds, listing the serious deterioration to his health as one of the main reasons. He was diagnosed with cancer last year.
BELGRADE -- The reconstructed House of Human Rights and Democracy opened in Belgrade on Thursday.
It aims "to ensure more comprehensive action in the human rights sector through cooperation between local and international civilian society organizations and thus contribute to the democratization of the society," Tanjug reported.
The House commenced its work thanks to the facilities provided by the City of Belgrade and the support for reconstruction offered by the Norwegian government. It was officially opened on Thursday by Crown Prince of Norway Haakon Magnus.
His Royal Highness Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway, opened Human Rights House in Belgrade.
The Center for Peacebuilding (KOFF) is happy to share the recently published KOFF-Essential on the Implementation of the Swiss Guidelines on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. You can find it attached or on our website: www.swisspeace.ch/publications/essentials.html Please feel free to share it with anyone for whom it might be of interest.
In the area of judicial reform, the reinstatement of previously dismissed judges and prosecutors was finalised. Several key acts, such as the law on seats and territorial jurisdiction, amendments to the law on the organisation of courts, the law on judges and the law on public prosecution offices, were adopted. A new network of courts of general jurisdiction started operating in January 2014. However, special legislation related to the judicial network in Kosovo, the deadline for which was set by the law on seats and territorial jurisdiction as 31 December 2013, has not yet been adopted.
After twenty-five years engaged in the process of democratisation, Serbia is a good example of the challenges this process presents as it has passed through destruction, devolution and finally democratic change and learnt many lessons along the way. This article applies these lessons to the development of the rule of law and fair trial standards in Serbia, an emerging democracy with a vivid past and present.
Representatives of the Humanitarian Law Fund, Belgrade Centre for Human Rights and YUCOM are attending seminars that aim to achieve the highest level of expertise in monitoring and reporting of the trial for war crimes before the Special War Crimes Department of the High Court in Belgrade. The trainings are organized by the OSCE Mission to Serbia and supported by the European Union.
The Introductory seminar took place from 28-29. August 2014. It was led by Prof. Dr. Fausto Pocar who is one of the most experienced judges of the ICTY in the field of international criminal law. He introduced the concept of individual and command responsibility for war crimes through case studies that have been initiated by the prosecution for war crimes.
In case you have not already done so, we would hereby like to invite you to register for the International Conference "The future belongs to us: LGBT rights on the road to the European Union" that will take place on September 12 and 13 in Belgrade, Hotel Metropol Palace .
Within the Conference, a cocktail in the Belgrade City Hall will also be organized, on Friday September 12, at 7 PM.
Read more about the Conference here.
Please register by filling in the registration form (in the attachment) or by filling it online.
BELGRADE -- If found guilty, the suspect in the murder of a 15-year-old girl could be sent to prison for 30 to 40 years, as Serbia has abolished the death penalty.
This is what Justice Minister Nikola Selaković told reporters on Thursday, after the police announced that they had a suspect in custody for the murder of Tijana Jurić, who was abducted and murdered last month.
"In the past, death penalty was handed down for this kind of criminal offense, but like all other European countries, we had to erase it from our criminal code. We, as a member of the Council in Europe, have to respect the European Charter that prohibits the death penalty," he explained.
The further course of the proceedings in connection with case is now "in the hands of the prosecution and the court," he explained.
July 28, 2014 - YUCOM became full member of Civic Solidarity Platform consisting of organizations from 33 countries. The Civic Solidarity Platform functions as a decentralized advocacy network of independent civic groups from across the OSCE region, including a core group of activists that have already engaged in efforts to improve cooperation among human rights organizations based in the US, Europe, and former Soviet Union.
Working groups have been formed to undertake focused and coordinated action on specific human rights topics, such as security and human rights and racism, xenophobia and intolerance in Europe. Civic Solidarity Platform members are also working collectively to dispatch teams to monitor unfolding crises in the region and ensure a strategic and coordinated response to human rights developments.
YUCOM within the network will conduct a set of activities related to Serbian 2015 OSCE chairmanship.
Milan Antonijevic for public TV station Radio Television of Serbia talks on statute of limitations and judiciary reforms.
On 5-7th of May 2014. Milan Antonijevic, director of YUCOM, attended the regional conference in Ohrid, Macedonia. Representatives of advocates, private advocates, journalists and CSO representatives, from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia officially launched The Balkan Regional Rule of Law Network – BRRLN.
Milan as a member of the BRRLN’s Media and Public Awareness Working Group said that the network will help to unify stakeholders’ activities around issues of mutual interest. “[The bar associations, CSOs, and media were] probably on different sides, misunderstanding each other,” he said. “It would be a really good step to start talking and to exchange views because we have very common interests and we have very common problems as professionals and we can solve them only together.”
Serbian authorities are improving the capacity of the country’s correctional institutions, but overcrowding remains a problem, experts said.
An April report by the Council of Europe showed that Serbia ranks first in Europe in prison overcrowding.
The report, relying on 2012 data, showed that Serbia had 11,070 inmates but a prison capacity of 6,950, giving it an average of 159 prisoners per 100 beds.
Italy ranked second with 145 inmates per 100 prison beds, and Cyprus had 140 prisoners per 100 prison beds.
The overcrowding problem is most acute in Serbia, Cyprus, Hungary and Belgium, according to the report, which stated that on average in Europe there are 98 inmates per 100 prison beds.
European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH) , Lawyers for Democracy (LawDem), Belgrade in cooperation with Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM), Belgrade
Human Rights and Democracy in the Context ofEU Enlargement – Western Balkan Perspectives
Friday, June 6th 2014, Belgrade
On May 14, 2014, the Partnership for Transparency Fund (PTF) launched the Barry Metzger Rule of Law Initiative at the law offices of Baker & McKenzie in Washington, DC. The initiative is designed to respect the humanitarian and legal values that PTF founder and board member Barry Metzger promoted throughout his life by promoting systems of justice that recognize individual rights, equality, dignity, and respect for all before the law.
“Our focus is bottom up, not top down. Our goal is to empower citizens to demand more accountable and honest government. Ultimately, change has to come from within a country through the persistent demands of its citizens,” said Daniel Ritchie, PTF Board Member and friend of Barry Metzger.
In the following year, Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights YUCOM, Centre for Theatre Research ApsArt and Media Center Beta implement the project Unpackig 2014/15, which should enable young people from 12 municipalities in Serbia to connect , but also to raise abilities of youth offices to enrich their activities, engage as many young people as possible and provide them with the opportunity to run their own programs.
Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM ) Milan Antonijevic said that we should break the stereotypes that human rights and gender equality is a new thing, and added that there are texts from the 19th century where human rights are guaranteed, as well as those that use the noun in the feminine gender for the function.
Belgrade Center for Human Rights in cooperation with the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM), Centre for Theatre Research (ApsArt) and Beta Media Center (MBC) has organized a meeting to present the activities within the Unpacking program 2014/15 which aims at connecting young people from different parts of Serbia. The meeting was held on Monday 31st March at 11.15 at the Palace of Serbia, Mihajlo Pupin Boulevard 2.
Unpacking Program 2014/15 is being organized with the technical support of the Ministry of Youth and Sports and it will bring together 12 offices for youth or youth clubs from different parts of Serbia. The project is funded by the European Union within the program "Support to Civil Society".
Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights – YUCOM took participation in the coalition of non-governmental organizations coming from Central and Eastern Europe. The Coalition will use the opportunity to recall the fundamentals lying behind the adoption of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights at the conference devoted to „The Long-Term Future of the European Court of Human Rights” which will be held in Oslo, Norway on the 7th and 8th of April 2014.
Coming from countries where the ECtHR triggered important democratic changes and brought substantial progress with regards to human rights protection, members of the coalition feel obligated to take a stand in the ongoing debate. The respect for the European Court of Human Rights' case law and the proper implementation of its judgments at the national level is one of the key elements of the system's progress and success. Recently some of the member states have started to vehemently attack and question the European Court of Human Rights' legitimacy. This manifested itself, in the reform process, in the attempts to restrict the possibility of lodging complaints with the Court such as, for example, promoting the idea to introduce fees or mandatory representation by a lawyer. Other states would use every excuse (such as the margin of appreciation) to oppose the Court in sensitive cases.
The system of the European Convention, despite many criticisms and the backlog of cases, is regarded worldwide as the most effective human rights protection mechanism. Therefore, the members of the coalition would like to call on the participants of the conference, representatives of the academia, Council of Europe employees, government representatives and European NGOs, for a reflection on the current needs of the system.
Civil society organizations strongly condemn the outrageous statement of Radomir Pocuca, spokesman of the anti-terrorist unit of the Ministry of Interior, which clearly was a call for lynching the anti - war, feminist organization Women in Black.
On the 26th March of 2014 Women in Black commemorated the fifteenth anniversary of the ethnic cleansing and expulsion of Albanian civilians committed by Serbian armed forces. Their expressed condolences to the families of the victims were followed by a call for lynching through Pocuca’s Facebook account.
In March 2013, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the protection of human rights defenders. It establishes principles and standards for States to create an enabling environment for human rights defenders. One year after its adoption, the Human Rights House Network calls upon States to implement this resolution.
Laws should not criminalise or delegitimise the work and activities of human rights defenders, and their right to enjoy universal human rights, states the resolution 22/6 adopted on 21 March 2013 by the United Nations Human Rights Council on the protection of human rights defenders. It adds that States should include information on steps taken to create a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders in their communications to the international community.
Election Monitoring Centre of the House of Human Rights and Democracy (hereinafter: Centre) continues analyzing the writing of daily newspapers about political parties. In the period from 23 February to 1 March, the Centre analyzed the writing of 8 daily newspapers (Danas, Politika, Blic, Alo, Kurir, Informer, Vecernje novosti and Nase novine). This time, the Centre analyzed the printing editions of these media. The methodology remained the same, i.e. all articles in which journalists analyze elections or any aspect of them, columns, comments, and similar text were left out. Also, the analysis also excluded the articles reporting on mutual quarrels on a personal basis among the representatives of political parties.
Election Monitoring Centre of the House of Human Rights and Democracy (hereinafter: Centre) analyzed the writing of 7 daily newspapers (Danas, Politika, Blic, Alo, Kurir, Informer and Vecernje novosti) in the period from 15 to 23 February based on Internet editions, or printed ones, if internet editions were not available.
The goal of the analysis was to determine the presence of texts in which political parties express their opinions and present themselves to the voters in the course of the election campaign. Therefore, the analysis did not include all those articles in which journalists analyse the elections or any aspect of them, columns, comments and similar texts.
Although Belgrade has made progress in its efforts to stop radical groups' actions against vulnerable members of society, including human rights defenders and minorities, more action is needed to achieve security and to meet EU standards, experts said.
"While we welcome the progress made, threats and violence remain a significant factor. Extreme right-wing organisations published a 'black list' of media organisations, NGOs and prominent human rights defenders, and incited violence against them. Authorities have not taken the appropriate [responsive] actions," the EU Delegation in Serbia said in a written statement for SETimes.
Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights YUCOM urges political parties to publicly announce in front of citizens and voters their stand on the realization and enjoying of human rights, primarily in prisons, as prisoners are in a way excluded from society, as well as to provide access to justice for all citizens. We have chosen these two areas because they require changes and significant progress after the elections on 16th of March.
Based on the fifteen - year experience in providing free legal aid to citizens, Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights - YUCOM is confident that the judicial reform was carried out only formally, without adequate preparation and fair assessment of the alarming situation in courts. This conclusion is made regarding the fact that even after 40 days of implementation of the new laws, adopted for cause of reordering competencies and the new network of courts, there is no transparent progress.
YUCOM kindly invites you to a conference: Challenges in Human Rights Protection and in Supporting Socially Disadvantaged which will be held in Media Centre Belgrade (3 Terazije st.) on Friday December 20th, beginning at 12:00h.
YUCOM’s legal team will present to the audience its experiences and challenges from legal representation of citizens during 2013, especially concerning non-efficient response of the Serbian judiciary to HR violation cases. HR defenders will open discussion on problems they are facing in their activism and the attitudes towards them coming from authorities and the rest of society because of their involving in human rights protection and promotion.
This morning on Radio Belgrade First Program we spoke on EU pre-accession screening, statement of Jelko Kacin, negotiation chapters 23 and 24, visa liberalisation regime and many other issues. Guests in the studio were Nataša Vučković, President of the Parliamentary Committee on European Integration and Milan Antonijević, Director of YUCOM.
"Establishing the system of access to information, advice and active help"
12-13 September 2013, Hotel Moscow, Belgrade
National Conference will be held in the framework of the project "Triple A for Citizens: Access to information, Advice & Active help” funded by the European Commission.
The aim of national conference is to present the experiences and challenges in the field of Access to information, Advice & Active help and through discussion participants should identify possible public policies solutions in these areas. The Conference should encourage greater cooperation and coordination of the activities of public institutions, civil society and the international community in order to improve the realization and protection of the rights of citizens in Serbia.
Strasbourg 3 September 2013 - Sixty years ago, on the 3 September 1953, the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, better known as the “European Convention on Human Rights" , entered into force. This treaty is undoubtedly the cornerstone of the human rights protection in Europe. Over sixty years, persons within the jurisdiction of the member States of the Council of Europe have benefited from this unique legal instrument. Several landmark judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, guardian of the Convention, have helped to significantly strengthen the rule of law and democracy across the European continent.
STEP Coalition, composed of eight NGOs from Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo, strongly condemns the reckless acts of physical violence by the groups of citizens gathered in order to sabotage the first Montenegrin Pride Parade “Seaside Pride” held on 24 July 2013 in Budva, which were followed by hate speech towards the participants and organizers of this gathering.
Yesterday, in Budva, around 400 police officers were deployed to protect participants of the Parade, and the wider downtown was closed for traffic. STEP Coalition regretfully notices that at the very beginning of the Parade participants were thrown stones, glasses, bottles and other objects at by member of sport teams fun groups from the nearby restaurants, but even the individual citizens, which represents an open act of violence and evidence that Montenegrin society is still struggling high level of homophobia.
June 26, 2013
Committee for human, minority and gender equality rights, together with the committee for justice, state government and Public Administration and Local Self-Government organizes a fourth public hearing for the occasion of the International Day of Support for the Victims of Torture. The topic of the public hearing is: "Report of the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture for year 2012". The public hearing will be held today, 26 June 2013. , in the small hall of the National Assembly, Belgrade, 13 Nikola Pasic Square, starting at 11.00.
June 21, 2013
We have sent 250 letters to Serbian MPs on Friday with information about our project “From Lawbreaking to Lawmaking”. Next week, on the 27th of June, 2013, at the National assembly, during the public hearing, we will give our contribution to the discussion of current condition of convicts in penalty institutions in Serbia! We will post a more detailed report after the Public hearing!
May 27, 2013
· Miloš Janković, deputy Ombudsman
· Representative from the Directorate for the execution of penal sanctions, Ministry of justice and public administration
· PhD Vesna Petrovićexecutive director of Belgrade Center for Human rights
· Katarina Golubović, lawyer at YUCOM, Committee for Human Rights
· Aleksandra Jelić, theatre director, executive director of ApsArt
Project “From Lawbreaking to Lawmaking” is based on the production of legislative theater, which is the first time this type of project is happening in Serbia. The implementation of the project includes convicted persons serving a sentence in a penalty institution.
At the conference the speakers presented experiences from the project and the messages that transmitted through the workshops that were held. These three partner NGOs will continue to collect experiences from prisoners, as well as proposals that will be used to improve the prison system. During the working process of the project, project members from the field of law will make a selection of comments and summarize them into concrete proposals and recommendations for different or more efficient use of existing and proposed new legislation.
May 15, 2013
Training by Luc Opdebeeck (one of the most experienced jokers in the world) was held from 9 - 13 May in Belgrade, Serbia
Luc has been actively working with LT and Theatre of the oppressed for almost 25 years. He was the first to introduce LT to the Netherlands. As an experienced trainer Luc has given TO trainings in countries all over the world, including India, Mozambique, South Africa, Laos, Moldova, Croatia, Serbia, Spain and Belgium.
The project is starting at the moment while the new draft of the Law on Execution of Criminal Sanctions is on the public hearing and is expected to be voted in the National Assembly in the near future. This process is currently taking place entirely without the participation of those affected by the aforementioned changes, more precisely without prisoners. In that sense, this is the time for the project "From Lawbreaking to Lawmaking" because it will give the voice of prisoners and provide them with a chance and the opportunity to influence their position.
"From Lawbreaking to Lawmaking" is supported by the Ombudsman’s office and the financial support of FOSI (Open Society Institute).
When several years ago A.M. fell victim of discrimination, she did not know whom could she turn for help to. She had been enduring insults and was persecuted for years, before she decided to take her friend’s advice and make a phone call to an NGO from Belgrade. At the time, she knew little about those organisations, let alone what they were dealing with; yet, she has tried to receive legal aid from the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM) http://www.yucom.org.rs/. A.M. has succeeded and she is now not subject of discrimination and is one of many citizens of Serbia, who have managed to protect their human and civil rights by utilising this type of YUCOM’s aid.
For a couple of days following the acquittals of Croatian Generals Gotovina and Markač and Kosovar KLA units’ leader Haradinaj, various reactions caused for turmoil in the region – torrents of bitter statements from the Serbian side and euphoric outbursts in Croatia and Kosovo, respectively. As fierce as the reactions were, officials and the media in the counties in question quickly lost their interest. It seems as though nothing was learned. Nothing about the necessity for reconciliation in the region by assuming responsibility for one’s own actions.
The campaigners and activists of No Hate Speech Movement, the youth campaign initiated and coordinated by the Council of Europe, invite European institutions and the member states of the Council of Europe to establish a European Day for Victims of Hate Crime on 22 of July. This is to remember victims of hate crime and those who have fallen victim to such attacks. It’s also to show solidarity to those targeted, raise awareness and educate the general public about hate crime and its consequences on society.
We invite concentrated action and mobilization from all key actors to combat it and prevent it.
Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights is calling on competent authorities to take all the necessary measures to hold responsible media „Pečat“ for causing a wave of hate speech against Nataša Kandić, by publishing obvious false information, which jeopardized the reputation of this human right defender.
Before the enormous amount of semi-information, unchecked articles and imputations, it is unacceptable that this completely false news remains unpunished like many other similar affairs. This undermines the reputation of all the media, and offenders are getting the clear message that publishing false information is allowed with complete impunity.
A group of human rights organizations are encouraging the European Commission and European Union member states to support Serbia in being granted the date for opening EU accession negotiations with Serbia as soon as possible.
This act on behalf of the EU would be a clear signal that Serbia is prepared to open issues in areas in which any improvement would also mean a direct improvement of Serbia’s citizens’ lives. The values that the EU brings, especially in chapters 23 and 24, which are to be opened at the very beginning of the negotiations, will distance Serbia from the politics of conflicts, non-tolerance and instability.
In addition, this will also be a clear indicator that the energy invested in the changes of October 5, 2000 has not been forgotten, and that progress and willingness to negotiate are being appreciated. The issues that Serbia has been successfully resolving, from its cooperation with the Hague Tribunal, to the latest improvements in relations in the region demonstrated that there is a willingness to begin a process of adapting to the EU regulations, but, more importantly, that there is a willingness to adopt values that the EU brings.
Opening accession negotiations is not and should not be the support to any particular government, but rather support to the citizens of Serbia to build their country as a stable and modern one, willing to respond to all of the challenges it is faced with.
House for Human Rights and Democracy (KLJPD):
- Civil Intiatives
- Belgrade Centre for Human Rights
- Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights
- Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia
- Policy Center
Letter signed by:
- Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies (CEAS)
- Center for Human Rights – Nis
- Sandzak Committee for Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms
- Asociation Step Forward Krusevac
- Gay Straight Alliance (GSA)
- Argus – Civil Association of Hungarians in minority rights
- SOS Belgrade
- PROTECTA Nis
- Center for Development of Non-profit Sector
- Women in Black
- Center for Cultural Decontamination (CzKD)
- Center for Independent Living Serbia
YUCOM and its partner organizations are conducting a research on the availability of existing ways of access to information, advice and active help in Western Balkan countries and Turkey.
The research is being carried out within the framework of the project "Triple A for Citizens: Access to information, Advice & Active help" supported by the European Union.
We would like to invite you to participate on the panel within the framework of the implementation of the project « Access to justice (Justice for all) » that will take place on Monday, 4th February 2013 from 13 :00 in the House of Human Rights and Democracy, KnezaMiloša 4, Belgrade.
The panel’s topic will address the possibilities of advancing the system of free legal aid and bringing it closer to citizens, i.e. securing the access to justice for all, in particular for marginalized groups and vulnerable social categories.
Nationalistic rhetoric from officials and ethnic insults in the media have helped encourage Serbian far-right groups to draw up lists of 'traitors' and 'spies'.
The UN-backed Tribunal's acquittal of Gotovina and Markac of crimes committed during the offensive strengthened the belief among those who were previously undecided that a historic injustice was being inflicted on the Serbian people, while also fuelling conspiracy theories that the international community has an 'anti-Serb' plan for the Balkans.
In the same month as the Hague ruling, the Serbian constitutional court decided not to ban far-right organisations, and both events have emboldened nationalist extremists to step up their campaigns, believes Milan Antonijevic, director of the lawyers' committee for human rights, YUCOM.
"In these campaigns, minorities are presented as enemies, lists of traitors are being made, and this gained momentum at the begining of 2013," Antonijevic told BIRN.
In the Belgrade office of the Lawyers’ Committee on Human Rights (YUCOM), I found a pamphlet from an organization called Impunity Watch. The Netherlands-based organization has run programs on impunity with local partners in Guatemala, Sri Lanka, and Burundi. And it has partnered with YUCOM and other organizations in Serbia to address the culture of impunity that has made it difficult to establish the rule of law in the post-Milosevic era. In that brief period after the assassination of Zoran Djindjic, the liberal standard bearer who briefly served as Serbian prime minister, the Serbian government cracked down on organized crime. But it was a short-lived commitment.
Dear Human Rights House Network partners,
Please find attached a draft Human Rights House Network (HRHN) letter of concern to be sent to the President of Azerbaijan following the arrests occurred during the peaceful protests in Baku on Saturday 26 January.
Letter of HRH was supported by the Human Rights House in Belgrade
The Embassy of Australia and the Human Rights House
have the pleasure of inviting You to the Round table
“Opening Eyes: Reconciliation through Art”
Key note speaker - Prof. Christine Nicholls, a writer, curator and Senior Lecturer in Australian Studies at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia
on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 at 12:00h
at the Human Right House
Kneza Miloša 4, Beograd
R.S.V.P. by 28 January
Tel: +381 11 32 84 188 (HRH)
Invitation forr Human Rights House
Program for the Round table, Nicholls Christine
Dear Mr. Premier,
Dear Mr. Vice-premier,
We are writing to draw your attention to the attitude Minister of Justice and Administration Nikola Selakovic’s took in the talk-show “Impression of the Week” aired by TV B92 on January 20, 2013. It was in his presence that President of the Serb National Movement “Nasi” Mr. Ivanovic, who also appeared as a guest, threatened violence, torture, mutilation and murder against another guest, Chairwoman of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights Sonja Biserko, and everyone daring to say Kosovo was independe.
On Friday December 14 in the Human Rights House Belgrade (HRH Belgrade www.kucaljudskihprava.rs) YUCOM presented the baseline study: The Situation of Human Rights Defenders in Serbia covering the period of 2008 – 2011. The document was produced by UN expert Orsolya Toth and YUCOMs experts. Vivid discussion opened new topics of protection and perception of human rights defenders. Also we spoke on the November 2012 request of the rightwing organisations to ban the human rights organisations and media and lack of adequate state response.
After a three-year battle, freedom of expression is confirmed by court.
Namely, by a decision transmitted to the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights on 3rd December 2012, the First Basic Court of Belgrade rejected the private criminal lawsuit for insult, that was lodged by the oganization “Dveri” against director of the Centre for cultural decontamination Borka Pavićević at the end of 2009.
The Human Rights House (the House) calls on all political parties currently negotiating the formation of the future government not to ignore civil society organisations (CSOs) views’ related to the formation of the cabinet. Member organisations of the House call on the Prime Minister elect and those parties negotiating the make-up of the future cabinet to organize a meeting with representatives of CSOs who are requesting the formation of a Ministry of Human Rights. We further request that they take into account suggestions made by CSOs regarding the competencies of human rights-related bodies that may be created by the future government.
Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights - YUCOM and Belgrade Center for Human Rights – BCHR made a complaint to the Commissioner for Protection of Equality regarding the conduct of the Secretariat for Social Welfare of the City of Belgrade.
The complaint has been sent because the Secretariat organized a public transportation of persons with disabilities, but only the persons with disabilities from the area of the city center of Belgrade have access to this service. The persons with disabilities living far away from the city center had to fulfill an additional condition to using this service – the need to have at least three other persons with disabilities from the same part that have applied for this form of public transport...
Bulgaria, which has been repeatedly criticised by Brussels over its failure to deal with the organised crime effectively, decided to set up a special court to speed up the pace of prosecutions. Trials against underworld bosses in Bulgaria have been dragging on for years, with few convictions.
Given Bulgaria's poor track record of dealing with cases of organised crime over the past two decades, analysts do not expect the new system to lead to a turnaround quickly.
Other Balkan countries with special anti-mafia courts in place include Serbia and Croatia, which established its court following an October 2008 car bomb explosion that killed Ivo Pukanic, the owner of the country's Nacional weekly, and his marketing chief, Niko Franjic.
The Serbian tribunal was set up before the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in March 2003. The trial against those involved in the plot against the country's first democratically elected prime minister eventually became "the best known case" in the institution's history, Milan Antonijevic, director of the Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights told SETimes.
"The special court had a good influence on the judiciary, and if we compare its practice with that of other courts, we will see a big difference in the number of confirmed judgments, in the number of those quality items," he said.
"Around 100 judgments were passed in 2011 alone," Antonijevic noted, adding that the court was speeding up its work and that the number of proceedings initiated by the Prosecutor's Office was also rising.
Although there have been instances of a trial getting stuck, or of issues not adequately handled by magistrates and lawyers, "Serbia needs this court," he said.
"Milan Antonijevic, Director of YUCOM participated in the conference "Human Rights and MPs" organized by the OSCE"
Director of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, Milan Antonijevic participated in a panel discussion on "anachronism in our criminal law" organized by the Belgrade entre for Human Rights
Ombudsman Saša Janković expressed his hope that this year’s pride parade will not be used again as an excuse for violence, division and destruction.
Statement of Commissioner for the Protection of Equality Nevena Petrusic, before the upcoming Pride Parade.
Director of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, Milan Antonijevic appears on TV Avala.
Attack on Civil Society of Sandzak (September 13, 2011)
Milan Antonijević comments for Danas and Blic on Božidar Vučurević and the prevention measures prior to the Pride parade (13.09.2011.)
Announcement regarding the filing of complaint for discrimination against the City of Jagodina
STATEMENT REGARDING THE DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT ISSUED AGAINST THE ASSEMBLY OF JAGODINA
On the 27th of July 2011, Organizations for the Protection of Human Rights managed to postpone the eviction of Roma families from Skadarska 55 in Belgrade. Police and social centre very correctly performed their job. We appeal to the relevant city and republic authorities to find a permanent solution for caretaking of the families.
Eviction was prevented by: PRAXIS, FHP, YIHR, ZUC, CUPS, RCM and YUCOM.
On the 26 and 27th of June, YUCOM participated in the Fifth Assembly of the Coalition for REKOM and in the Forum for Transitional Justice in Post-Yugoslav Countries, which were held in hotel Holiday Inn in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Amir Kulaglić and Vesna Teršelič opened the Assembly, noting that the consultation process is completed successfully adopting statute of REKOM at the last session, when new strategy was defined and important decisions were made for routing further course of action. Vesna Teršelič expressed hope that the Assembly would pose as an incentive, since the need for establishing REKOM still exists.
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia and Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights YUCOM evaluate that the prompt reaction of the Ministry of Interior, as well as the arrest of the perpetrators of torture against a Roma in Vršac are a good step towards the reduction of police torture.
What casts a shadow over this case is the fact that the torture happened in 2007, while the reaction occured only after strong public pressure.
Adequate and prompt reactions of police, prosecution and judiciary, which were missing in the past, may lead to the certainty of the punishment of the perpetrators resulting in prevention of torture. At the same time, that would contribute to the readiness of the citizens to report cases of torture without any fear that they would be put under the pressure afterwards, or be exposed to the long-term process with uncertain outcome.
We note that in the internal control of Ministry of Interior there are currently a number of cases filed by YUCOM and other legal aid providers that point to the existence of torture, especially against marginalized groups, hence we expect that Ministry will show consistency and react in a timely manner. We also expect that certain cases will be re-opened and re-examined.
Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights - YUCOM
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia
On the initiative of the Lawyer’s Committee for Human Rights, with the support of NED as a part of the project ,”Constitutional Changes for Democratic Serbia in the EU”, the conference “What faults do you find in the Constitution of Republic of Serbia – the priorities of civil society” took place on Friday, June 3rd. The conference was held in the great room of the building of Belgrade City Hall, as part of the program of the Fair of the Organizations of Civil Society.
Six spokesmen from governmental, non-governmental and academic sectors presented their views on this issue, and the representatives of various organizations of civil society were given the opportunity to express their comments and suggestions during discussion session. All of them agreed that the regulations from the current Constitution show a great deal of inconsistency, mainly in the way in which they promote the protection of human rights. The main problem that this causes are different interpretations of the Constitution in practice.
Lawyer’s Committee for Human Rights invites you to the platform titled “What faults do you find with the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia – the priorities of civil society,” on Friday, June 3 2011 in the great hall of the City Administaration, Trg Nikole Pasica 6, Belgrade, with the beginning time at 9.30 AM.
The participants of the platform will raise the question of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia and the possible amendments, as well as the constitutional regulations criticized by the Venice Commission and the expert public. The platform will point to the drawbacks of the Constitution that became obvious during its five-year long existence. As all the constitutions of the countries in the region were changed in the process of accompanying and joining the EU, Serbia will also have to expect similar changes on its accelerated path to the integration. The representatives of the civil society will be given the opportunity to present their observations and suggestions during the discussion session, in order to formulate the priorities of the constitutional change.
Promoting the seven standards of public life is the field that YUCOM started working on in 2007. Thanks to the support of the Government of Republic of Serbia, that is, the Cabinet of the vice-president of the Government for European integrations and the Team for Social Inclusion and the Reduction of Poverty, with the funds from Swiss Government and the Government of the Kingdom of Norway, we continued with the activities in the year of 2011.
The earlier activities were carried out with the support of the EU and they produced extraordinary results, which could also be seen from the report from the training and the other activities that were carried out during the realization of the project.
In the very beginning of the realization of the project we contacted the trainees that took part in the training that took place in 2009 in the following cities: Subotica, Sombor, Novi Pazar, Nis, Presevo and Belgrade. The trainees who achieved the successful command of the standards of public life and were qualified to follow the implementation of those standards gave us the information about the violation and the following of the standards that were observed during 2011. The observations were made either on local or national level.
The Arrest of Ratko Mladić
Non-Governmental Organizations can ascertain with pleasure that the arrest of Ratko Mladić demonstrated that in Serbia there is enough political will and capacity to put an end to the many-years long hiding of the fugitive of Hague.
Impunity as a principle that we have been watching for years loses its force with the arrest of Ratko Mladić. We can expect that the case of Mladić will finally move from speculations to judicial paths where the concrete responsibility will be determined.
The positive message that is being sent with this act needs to be followed by the raising of the question of responsibility for the crimes in Sarajevo, Srebrenica and other places in the territory of ex-Yugoslavia, so that those who are on indictments of the Tribunal in Hague are not made into heroes.
In Belgrade a conference "Europeanization: Serbian-Albanian Civil Dialogue" organized by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia with the support of the Open Society Institute in Kosovo. NGO representatives from Kosovo and Serbia have pointed out that in spite of official negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina, it is necessary to continue the dialogue in the NGO sector. Jointly was agreed that the promotion of reconciliation, the European system of values, the rule of law, cultural cooperation and active dialogue between are the key things for the future, while representatives from Kosovo said that the proposed partition of Kosovo is unacceptable.
The gathering was attended by the Director of YUCOM, MilanAntonijevic.
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
May 17, 2011
In every part of the world, men and women are persecuted and attacked because of who they are or whom they love. Homophobia, transphobia and the brutal hostility associated with them are often rooted in a lack of understanding of what it actually means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). So to combat this terrible scourge and break the cycle of fear and violence, we must work together to improve education and support those who stand up against laws that criminalize love and promote hate. As we mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia this May 17, let us resolve to redouble our efforts.
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am proud to reaffirm our support for LGBT communities at home and abroad, and to call for an end to discrimination and mistreatment of LGBT persons wherever it occurs. Whether by supporting LGBT advocates marching in Belgrade, leading the effort at the United Nations to affirm the human rights of LGBT persons, or condemning a vile law under consideration in Uganda, we are committed to our friends and allies in every region of the world who are fighting for equality and justice. These are not Western concepts; these are universal human rights.
Despite these gains and hard work, there is more to do to turn the tide of inequality and discrimination against the LGBT community. If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, know that the United States stands with you and we are unwavering in our commitment to ending this cycle of hate.
Serbia needs to avoid a situation in which the measures planned to be used to reduce the number of false asylum seekers to create an even bigger problem,that is a violation of human rights, especially the Roma population, the interviewees Goran Miletic and Milan Antonijevic, experts in the field of human rights agree...
Coalition Against Discrimination and its partner organizations condemn, in the strongest terms, today’s demolition of the remaining four barracks located on the corner of Milutina Milankovića and Omladinskih brigada streets, Novi Beograd, which left four families without a roof over their heads at temperatures below zero.
Serbian officials and human rights defenders have expressed support for the heavy sentences handed down by a Belgrade court against the killers of French football fan Brice Taton.
The European Commission in its 2010-2011 enlargement strategy set out its concerns about restrictions to freedom of expression and media in the Western Balkans and Turkey. Freedom of expression is a fundamental pillar of good governance and accountability in democratic societies, which also requires responsibility of media professionals. The European Union expects candidate countries and potential candidates to implement such a core democratic principle and to enable a varied, pluralistic debate in the public space.
A coalition of NGOs in the Balkans launched a petition in support of a regional commission, dubbed REKOM, tasked with establishing the facts about the victims of the wars in the former Yugoslavia.
Anti-Discrimination Coalition invites you to Wednesday 04th May 2011. starting in the 10tham in the Media Center, Terazije 3, I floor, attend the presentation of the annual report on discrimination in Serbia in 2010. year and award the fight against discrimination in 2010. year.
Members of the Coalition Against Discrimination, will present the fifth, a regular, annual report on discriminatory practices in the country.
The Jury of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA), meeting in Geneva, selects Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera as the Laureate for her work for LGBT rights and marginalised people in Uganda.
Hackers have breached the online network of the PlayStation 3 videogame console, endangering the personal data of millions. Sony has shut down the network in response to what could be the largest such online heist ever.
BELGRADE -- 12 years ago today 16 Radio Television of Serbia (RTS) employees were killed when NATO's warplanes attacked the media outlet's building.e)
The anniversary of their deaths is being marked with wreaths being laid at a memorial named "Why", erected in a Belgrade park by the families of the victims.
Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS) President Ljiljana Smajlović says the attack on the RTS building was a war crime that was never became a case. Smajlović said she would propose to international associations gathering reporters to mark April 23 as day dedicated to remembrance of killed media employees.
"There has not been sufficient insistence that this was a war crime, while Amnesty International said it was, NATO refused to discuss it," she noted.
The Higher Court in Belgrade has sentenced far-right organization Obraz leader Mladen Obradović to two years for organizing riots during 2010 Pride Parade.
YUCOMs web site has been hacked, alegedly by the same group that hacked website of Commissioner for Free Access to Information in 2010.
B92 has learned that she reached a deal with the prosecution that recently indicted her, which would allow her to pay a fine and spend a period of time under house arrest in exchange for a guilty plea.
The proposal has been sent to the Higher Court in Belgrade, and would see the widow of Željko Ražnatovićaka Arkan pay EUR 1.5mn in fines, and spend a year under house arrest and electronic surveillance.
Montenegrin Prime Minister Igor Lukšić has supported holding of a gay Pride Parade which has been scheduled by LGBT Forum Progres NGO.
In Serbia's capital Belgrade Roma are being forcibly evicted from informal settlements. These forced evictions are in breach of the right to adequate housing. Some Roma families have been resettled in metal containers, segregated from the rest of the population. This report shows how widespread and systematic discrimination against Roma often gives them no choice but to live in informal settlements, where they have no security of tenure and are vulnerable to forced eviction.
At the ceremony marking the Day of Sarajevo Major Alija Behman conferred "Honorary Citizen" Award on Sonja Biserko, chairwoman of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia. The City Council decision of the award, read out last evening in the National Theater, quotes:
"At the time Sarajevo suffered under the siege she was not the one and only but was surely among the most articulated, bravest and staunchest advocates against the slaughter of innocent civilians of our country, and against the aggression on Bosnia-Herzegovina. At that time she was clearly and openly condemning nationalistic hegemony and warning against war crimes.
Today, she keeps insisting on non-impunity for war crimes and on documentation of the truth that should be available to the public internationally and in the region.
The Committee of Lawyers for Human Rights (YUCOM) organised a forum “Open doors to the Parliament” about the process of submitting legislation to the Serbian Parliament.
YUCOM announced the launch of the Call Center 0700-400-700 to provide legal assistance to victims of human rights. The conference was organized within the project "Legal aid in cases of violation of human rights, discrimination and protection of human rights defenders", implemented by YUCOM with the support and cooperation of non-governmental organization Civil Rights Defenders.
YUCOM's Director Milan Antonijevic speaks for the "Prva TV" on the death threats and hate speech addressed to the Serbian citizen originally from Syria, Imad El Aoudehu through internet portal "Limundo". Organizations for the Protection of Human Rights requiring immediate response of police and prosecutors to combat hatespeech and cybercrime. (February 16, 2011).
Link to the statement on Youtube
"Innocent on all counts'
Weekly “NIN” Dragana Pejovic
What is the “error in the system” of Serbia if no serious charge of corruption ended up before the court and what would be the punishment for politicians if we do not have these “errors in the system”.
... In vain, the public hopes that once someone will go to prison and pay for all the robbery that we are witnessing. Yet no politician has been punished on the basis of any corruption scandals. Milan Antonijevic from the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights YUCOM said, however, that there had not been any judicial epilogue on scandals. Prosecution does not respond. "Although the sentencing policy is quite well designed, the verdicts do not follow.
This is making senseless any fight against corruption. The Prosecution can be directly accused of giving an incentive to corruption, because they do not use precise provisions of the Criminal Code" says Antonijevic. He still recalls that an important factor in starting the process of revealing systematic corruption is the so-called adequate protection for whistleblowers as well as protection for NGOs and independent control body (Agency Against Corruption), but that protection is not provided in Serbia.
YUCOM’s representatives, Milan Antonijevic and Katarina Golubovic had a meeting with the Head of the Department of Legislative Affairs of the National Assembly of Serbia, Dr Novica Kulic in December 2010. In the National Assembly, where he was introduced with the aim of the project. Dr. Kulic said that the project is of great importance for the National Assembly and that it fits into the strategy of opening of the assembly to citizens.
Požega: Sanction graffiti artists
14th January 2011. | 15:51 -> 19:11 | Source: B92
Belgrade - Pozega appeared in anti-Roma graffiti. Those responsible will be punished, says for B92 Mayor of Pozega.
Swastikas, that appeared in the Roma settlement Lisiste in Pozega in the night between the 12th and 13 January, most likely are the work of irresponsible individuals, believes Mayor Milovan Micovic.
"We strongly condemn this act and, together with the police investigation will be made"says Mićović...
Petition for the adoption of the Law on civic (citizens) initiative, initiated by People’s Parliament from Leskovac and Center for advanced legal studies, and supported by Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights- YUCOM – was submitted on November 25, 2010 to Milan Markovic, Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government. Petition was supported by great number of organizations and individuals.
Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights - YUCOM and Coalition for Free Access to Information organized conference in Novi Sad about free access to information and protecting data. The Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection, Rodoljub Šabić, said that the citizens of Serbia are the most responsible that the law about FOI 'started into effect'. In the office of the Commissioner are recorded about 10.000 appeals, most of them are solved, and in under 90% of the cases people get what they wanted', Šabić explained. YUCOM's director Milan Antonijević reminded that the Government last summer passed the Strategy about the personal data protection and pointed that what we need for implementing the Strategy is Action Plan which will be suited for Serbia and that in making of that Strategy should be involved the civil section.
Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights - YUCOM organized meeting in Novi Pazar on 13/14. October 2010 with human rights defenders NGOs. The meeting was very successful. Many human rights defenders from Serbia came to the meeting and they openly discussed problems that they are facing with.
While anticipating proceedings against those who were arrested, and a verdict of the Constitutional Court on banning organizations and sport supporters groups, NGO’s for human rights are posing 5 questions to the Government of Republic of Serbia
More than 100 organisations from 23 European countries last week asked EU Commissioners Malmström, Reding and Kroes in a joint letter to "propose the repeal of the EU requirements regarding data retention in favour of a system of expedited preservation and targeted collection of traffic data". Among the signatories are civil liberties, data protection and human rights associations as well as crisis line and emergency call operators, professional associations of journalists, jurists and doctors, trade unions, consumer organisations and industry associations.
Protect ‘’Jehovah’s Witnesses’’
Attorneys with the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights have filed, in the name of the damaged parties, charges to the Basic Court in Užice against several persons for the felonies of violent behavior and violation of freedom of exercising religion and performing religious rites. By doing so, YUCOM, in the name of the damaged parties, took over the handling of the charges first submitted to the former District Prosecution in Užice in 2008 by the religious community ‘’Jehovah’s Witnesses’’. The District Prosecution in Užice first transferred the case to the Municipal Prosecution which, after two years, delivered a notification to the damaged parties about dropping the charges due to lack of evidence.
Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights, Urbanin and the Sandžak Committee for Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms would like to express their surprise and concern regarding obvious manipulations pertaining to the constituting of the Bosniak National Council.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM) has expressed concerns today about “the atmosphere that is being created” following Islamic community’s Mesihat’s reaction to a photomontage of the Mufti Muamer Zukorlić published in “Blic”.
Seven inmates who are serving their prison sentences or being held in pre-trail detention in prisons in Niš, Novi Sad, Subotica, Požarevac and Sremska Mitrovica contacted YUCOM’s Legal Aid office in the months from January to June 2010.
The panel discussions will be held as part of the project “Inclusion of Citizens in Social and Political Life through the Right to Petition and Submit Recommendations,“ with support from the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia.
The project’s main goal is advocating citizens’ participation in political life and their direct involvement in the decision-making process on all levels of public authority by adopting necessary legislation and establishing an effective mechanism for the regulation of the right to petitions and recommendations.
The panel discussions will be held as part of the project “Inclusion of citizens in social and political life through the right to petition and submit recomendations “, with support from the Delegation of the European Union to Serbia. The project’s main goal is advocating citizens’ participation in political life and their direct involvement in the decision-making process on all levels of public authority by adopting necessary legislation and establishing an effective mechanism for the regulation of the right to petitions and recomendations.
Overwhelmed by deep grief following Biljana Kovacevic-Vuco’s sudden and tragic demise, we at YUCOM are resolved to transform it into a lasting effort aimed at continuing Biljana’s engagement in changing Serbia into a better place, a society ruled by law, where human and minorities’ rights are honored, respected and protected.
Biljana Kovačević-Vučo, president of Lawyer’s Committee for Human Rights – YUCOM, passed away on April 19th 2010 in Belgrade.
Kovačević-Vučo was well-known human rights defender and one of the founders of the Yugoslav Action NGO and the independent union Nezavisnost in March 1999.
On 15 December 2009 the Front Line photo exhibition “Defending Life with Life” was officially opened in Brussels, in the Halles St-Géry. This exhibition of photographs by Mark Condren is a powerful testimony to the courage and commitment of human rights defenders who every day put their lives on the line in defence of the rights of others. 'Defending Life With Life' consists of a series of stunning photographic portraits which document the experience of human rights defenders in Honduras, Western Sahara, North East India, Serbia and Kenya. The exhibition will run until 27 January 2010 inclusive.
At a July 23, 2009 session of a Supreme Court of Serbia Chamber composed of Justices Snežana Andrejević, Spomenka Zarić and Sonja Brkić, three and a half years following the first instance decision brought by the Belgrade District Court, a final judgement was passed: Aleksandar Tijanić wins in spite of the law and contrary to morals, while YUCOM’s work is rendered impossible.
Human rights defenders are under attack in Serbia and the authorities are failing to protect them, Amnesty International said in a briefing published today.
“Physical attacks and threats to the lives and property of human rights activists are seldom promptly and impartially investigated by the authorities,” said Sian Jones, Amnesty International’s Balkans expert. “Few perpetrators are brought to justice”.
Roundup: Serbian author sued for free speech
Helsinki committee for human rights and Yucom committee has filed a lawsuit against the Serbian author and former president of Yugoslavia, Dobrica Cosic, claiming that his writing is criminal and that it constitutes a criminal act.
2008 Human Rights Report: Serbia
...On December 1, activists from the right-wing group 1389 marched to YUCOM's office and demonstrated for 30 minutes in an attempt to deliver a letter criticizing YUCOM's head Biljana Kovacevic-Vuco for her role in "dismembering the Serbian state." In response, YUCOM issued an open letter to President Tadic, Prime Minister Cvetkovic, and Interior Minister Dacic calling on the government to "take adequate measures against bullies who have been harassing the citizens of Belgrade and especially representatives of NGOs."
In May YUCOM reported that unknown individuals spray-painted graffiti on a Muslim-owned house in Palic that called for ethnic-based violence and the banishment of non-Serbs. Local police officials ordered the homeowner to remove the graffiti and forbade local officials from photographing it.
On August 25, following public criticism, the telecommunications agency withdrew a proposed regulation to require Internet operators to provide state institutions access to client information as part of a system for the legal surveillance of telecommunications. Under the proposal, Internet providers would have to enable at their own expense autonomous surveillance of clients' Internet activities and reroute incoming and outgoing traffic to authorized agencies, the police, and the Security Information Agency (BIA). The ombudsman, the commissioner for information of public importance, the Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM), and ANEM opposed the proposal.
A variety of independent domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. However, these groups were often subjects of harassment, threats, and libel suits for expressing views critical of the government or contrary to nationalist views of Kosovo, the ICTY, and the wars of the 1990s. Prominent human rights groups included HCS, the HLC, YUCOM, the Fund for an Open Society, YIHR, and the Belgrade Center for Human Rights.
Following Kosovo's independence declaration, some media and right-wing groups launched campaigns targeting the most prominent human rights NGOs and their activists for their opinions on Kosovo's status. On February 22, for example, YUCOM activists received threatening phone calls. Police inspectors investigated the case but did not make any arrests. A number of Web forums called for fighting "national traitors" and "burning the witches" (a reference to a group of prominent female human rights activists) and posted activists' home addresses and other personal information on blogs. Throughout September and October daily newspapers Pravda and Kurir, weekly Tabloid, and weekly magazine Pecat published a number of articles targeting HCS head Sonja Biserko for criticism, which contributed to a hostile atmosphere toward human rights advocates in general.
WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS’ SECURITY STRATEGIES
Insiste, Persiste, Resiste, Existe
with Vahida Nainar
All over the world, women defend the rights of individuals and communities facing oppression, discrimination and violence. Their work is powerful, and controversial. And it of ten meets with bitter, and violent, opposition.
YUCOM and the Coalition for Free Access to Information organized round table on the three laws that the Coalition is advocating for. The roundatable took place in Media Center - Nis.
Representatives from local NGOs (from Nis and Leskovac), law students association, representative from USAID Nis office and media were present.
The Council of Europe delegation, consisting of Berry Kralj – advisor and desk officer for Southeastern Europe, and Andrew Ford – advisor with the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner’s office, held a meeting with representatives of the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights on September 8th at the YUCOM offices. The delegation’s mission is the preparation for the visit of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Thomas Hammarberg. The preparations are being carried out through the delegation’s meetings with key partners about the situation in the field of human rights and political issues before presenting their conclusions to the Commissioner prior to his arrival in Serbia.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
A variety of independent domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. However, these groups were often subjects of harassment, threats, and libel suits for expressing views critical of the government or contrary to nationalist views of Kosovo, the ICTY, and the wars of the 1990s. Prominent human rights groups included HCS, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), the Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM), the Fund for an Open Society, YIHR, and the Belgrade Center for Human Rights.
During the year media campaigns aimed at demonizing human rights activists led to threats, harassment, and attacks against NGO workers. Media sometimes published NGO workers' personal information, such as their ethnic backgrounds and addresses. On February 28, tabloid Kurir called for the prosecution of Women's Peace Coalition for advocating the independence of Kosovo. On April 28, the pro-Radical newspaper Pravda printed an eight-page report attacking NGOs as enemies of the country, including attacks on HCS director Sonja Biserko, HLC's Natasa Kandic, and YUCOM director Biljana Kovacevic-Vuco.
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - Serbia
Securing membership of the EU is the only way to assure the democratization of Serbia and a democratic future for the country. How long this process will take depends on us.
We are advocating European values and a path of modernization in Serbia - Serbia as an open country and as a European country - and we demand that the Democratic Party's presidential candidate, Boris Tadic, sends clear messages supporting this policy. Seventy percent of citizens in Serbia have declared themselves pro-Europe, and presidential candidate Tadic is obliged to represent the aspirations of these citizens.
January 25, 2008
YUCOM legal aid team defended Biljana Kovacevic Vuco, Chairperson of YUCOM in the First Municipal Court in Belgrade in a civil case started by Borisav Mikelic in August 2005 (former president of Government of so called Republika Srpska Krajina). Borisav Mikelic didn’t show up on the trial to take a stand, although he had been dully summoned. All suggestions of his lawyers were overruled by the judge for being senseless.
It is one of 15 cases (criminal and civil) led against YUCOM and Biljana Kovacevic Vuco as a part of the campaign aimed at disturbing and discrediting regular YUCOM activities. This intention is visible in the fact that Mikelic, although he pressed the charges avoided to appear in the court.
The Coalition for Tolerance Against Hate Crime and its work were introduced to the public at the media conference on November 28th in Belgrade. Marija Perkovic (WiB), Borka Pavicevic (CZKD), Andrej Nosov (YIHR), Professor Stevan Lilic (LawDem) and Biljana Kovacevic – Vuco (YUCOM) took part.
On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, December 10, in the name of solidarity and support to radio program “Pescanik”, Queeria Center and Center for Cultural Decontamination, with support of Women in Black and Center for Development of Peace and Tolerance, organized an evening of citizens' resistance and support, named “I am not afraid!”. This meeting was organized with the aim to present the part of Serbia which disagrees with the endangerement of elementary human rights, such as are the freedom of thought, speech and movement, and with the relativisation of this endangerement by its' classification as the freedom of thought and legitimate political dispute of opponents.
YUCOM president, Biljana Kovačević-Vučo, has participated in Front Line’s 4th Platform of Human Rights Defenders in Dublin.
From 22-24 November more than 100 human rights defenders from more that 80 countries gathered in Dublin Castle for the 4th Front Line Platform for Human Rights Defenders. The Dublin Platform is an opportunity for human rights defenders to share experiences, learn from each other and identify ways in which Front Line can better respond to their security needs.
Biljana Kovacevic – Vuco – one of the protected person by Front Line
Front Line issues Urgent Appeals on behalf of human rights defenders at risk on a daily basis. These Appeals normally remain active on Front Line web site for a period of up to six weeks, depending on the situation. After this time they will be archived. Front Line maintains a watching brief on all these cases but no further action is requested after the six weeks, unless there is a significant development in the case.
Human rights defenders
Prosecutions believed to be malicious and politically motivated were opened in several proceedings against Biljana Kovačević-Vučo, director of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, and Humanitarian Law Centre director Nataša Kandic. The charges included defamation.