The Protector of Citizens, on his own initiative, and based on information from the media that a man in the village of Stračevo near Petrovac na Mlavi killed his wife with a firearm in front of the family home and then committed suicide, launched an investigation to control the legality and regularity of work of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia and the Centre for Social Work in that city.
The Protector of Citizens asked the MoI of Serbia – PD Požarevac – PS Petrovac na Mlavi to inform him within 15 days whether there were previous reports of violence in that family, what measures were taken to protect the victim of domestic violence and sanction the perpetrator, whether the perpetrator legally possessed a weapon and what the police did after learning about this case.
The Protector of Citizens asked the Centre for Social Work Petrovac na Mlavi to inform him within the same period whether the family was on the records of that centre, whether there were previous reports of domestic violence, what measures they undertook to provide support to the victim of violence, as well as what measures were taken after learning about this case.
The Protector of Citizens determined that the Law on Prevention of Domestic Violence has brought improvements in the system of protection against violence in family and in intimate partner relationships since the beginning of its implementation, but that there is room for additional improvements, primarily in the early response to this type of violence.
"In Serbia, victims of domestic violence, be it physical, psychological or economic, are mostly children, women and the elderly, who are often not even aware that they are victims of discrimination and abuse. This kind of treatment is not a matter of an individual family, as is the common understanding in our country, but of the whole society, because violence gives birth to either new bullies or new victims", said the Protector of Citizens, Zoran Pašalić.
Today, in an online address at the presentation of the Special Report of the Protector of Citizens on the work of coordination and cooperation groups in the area of the Higher Public Prosecutor's Office in Niš, Pašalić said that there are noticeable improvements in the actions of the competent authorities regarding the protection of victims of domestic violence, but that there is room for improving their work.
"Violence should be recognized on time, so victims of violence should be empowered to report those who abuse them to the competent authorities. And then the competent authorities should effectively and efficiently provide the victims with full protection from the abusers", Pašalić said.
Deputy Protector of Citizens for Gender Equality, Jelena Stojanović, presenting the Special Report on the work of coordination and cooperation groups in the area of the Higher Public Prosecutor's Office in Niš, said that the research of the Protector of Citizens has shown that taking prescribed measures in cases of domestic violence became more effective and timelier and that acting officers better recognize violence and its forms.
"The improvement is also reflected in terms of communication between the authorities responsible for recording, preventing and sanctioning domestic violence. On the other hand, under the Law on the Prevention of Violence in Family and in Intimate Partner Relationships, multi-sector professional trainings for representatives of the prosecution, police administrations and centres for social work that make up groups for coordination and cooperation, would contribute to the improvement of work of the competent authorities", said Stojanović.
The Special Report of the Protector of Citizens was prepared in cooperation with the Autonomous Women's Centre and the Forum of Judges of Serbia, within the project "Effective policies and harmonized practice in providing support and assistance to victims of domestic violence", supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The Protector of Citizens launched an investigation into the legality and regularity of work of the Social Welfare Centre in Gornji Milanovac, as well as the Ministry of Interior, after learning from the media that a man was arrested in Gornji Milanovac on suspicion of having sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl for two years.
The Institution of the Protector of Citizens requested information from the Social Welfare Centre on whether the girl's family was already on the records of the SWC Gornji Milanovac, as well as what activities the centre undertook in the previous period in order to protect the rights and best interests of children from that family. A report on the activities undertaken by the competent police department in the aforementioned case was requested from the Ministry of Interior.
The Protector of Citizens also addressed the Centre for the Protection of Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings and requested information on actions in this case as well as in any other similar cases that are related to the same arrested man. The authorities should provide the requested information within 15 days.
Although in 2021 there was a shift in the position of LGBTI+ persons with the adoption of the Law on Amendments to the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination and the Law on Gender Equality, the cases that came before the Protector of Citizens show that LGBTI+ persons are still often exposed to discrimination, violence, prejudices and stereotypes, that they are faced with attacks, threats and hate speech and that they rarely decide to report them.
We have a lot of common challenges ahead of us – to develop tolerance towards differences from the earliest age of life, to encourage LGBTI+ members to exercise their rights, to get rid of fear and to support them in this.
Therefore, no one will simply give us an environment in which members of the LGBTI+ population would live without fear and exercise their rights, but we must build it ourselves. One of the forms of support for creating such an environment is institutional support, the Deputy Protector of Citizens, Jelena Stojanović, pointed out today during the promotion of the report of the association “Da se zna!” (Let it Be Known) on incidents motivated by hatred towards LGBT+ persons in
Serbia in 2021. On that occasion, she invited members of the LGBTI+ population to contact the institution of the Protector of Citizens without fear, whose doors are always wide open for them.
The promotion of the report "Data, not bells and whistles 5" was organized by the non-governmental organization “Da se zna!” in Belgrade.