The Protector of Citizens, on his own initiative, and based on media information that a father killed his minor child in Vršac and then committed suicide, launched a control investigation into the legality and regularity of work of the Provincial Secretariat for Social Policy, Demography and Gender Equality and the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia.
The Protector of Citizens requested the Provincial Secretariat to perform supervision over the professional work of the Centre for Social Work Vršac in this case within 15 days and to submit to him a report on the supervision performed and documentation on the handling of this case.
Due to media allegations that the mother of the murdered child repeatedly reported the child's father for domestic violence, the Protector of Citizens requested the MoI of Serbia to inform him within the same period about the actions of the competent police department in the specific case, especially about the activities of the police officers in this case.
The Protector of Citizens also requested from the MoI a statement on whether the police officers acted in accordance with the obligations prescribed by the Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence and the General and Special Protocol for the Protection of Women from Violence in Family and in Intimate Partner Relations.
In recent years, the Protector of Citizens has recorded a constant increase in the number of complaints from citizens about violations of economic and social rights, which is why this institution will work on greater promotion and improvement of the protection of human rights in that area, especially the rights of older women in the countryside, said the Deputy Protector of Citizens for Gender Equality Jelena Stojanovic.
"We will strengthen activities to promote and improve the protection of economic and social rights, above all the rights of elderly women in the countryside, through monitoring the implementation of the Revised European Social Charter", said Stojanović at the beginning of the training for employees of the Institution of the Protector of Citizens, organized as part of the project "Strengthening capacities of the Protector of Citizens in the protection and promotion of economic and social rights", which is supported by the Council of Europe.
Stojanović stated that reporting under the Revised European Social Charter, in relation to other mechanisms for the protection of human rights, implies more frequent engagement with the delivery of specific and detailed information and that such an approach enables more effective monitoring of the implementation of the Charter and the realization of economic and social rights in the member states of the Council of Europe.
The Deputy Protector of Citizens reiterated that the elderly, and especially elderly women in the countryside, are a part of the population that is insufficiently visible and insufficiently heard about their disadvantageous position, primarily in terms of exercising their rights from social and health care as well as pension and disability insurance.
Stojanović said that the Protector of Citizens, through the current project, is trying to develop a functional mechanism for monitoring certain provisions of the Revised European Social Charter and strengthen the capacities for reporting to the European Committee for Social Rights, which implies deepening cooperation with ministries, local self-government units, the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia and with civil society organizations.
The Deputy Head of the Mission of the Council of Europe in the Republic of Serbia, Nađa Ćuk, stated at the training that the Institution of the Protector of Citizens, as an independent institution for the protection of human rights in "A status", has an important role in the promotion and protection of human rights in the Republic of Serbia and a strong mandate in the area of improving the economic and social rights.
Ćuk stated that the Council of Europe supports the Institution of the Protector of Citizens in the area of strengthening the capacity to improve and protect economic and social rights and expressed satisfaction that the work of the Council of Europe within the framework of activities on the protection of human rights is continuously expanding in Serbia.
Representatives of the national institutions for the protection of human rights in Ireland and Slovakia, as well as a representative of the Council of Europe from the Department for Social Rights, presented their work and experiences to the employees of the Institution of the Protector of Citizens.
Old age is the inevitable the destiny of all of us, that's why today it is our duty to care and understand the elderly to make their lives more beautiful and easier, said the Protector of Citizens Zoran Pašalić today, on the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons.
Pašalić added that if we want to ensure a safe and dignified life for our increasingly numerous population of older persons, we must first destroy the harmful stereotypes that the elderly are a burden on society, and secondly, we must not allow them to feel bad or discriminated against because of their age. We must be aware that a large number of elderly people live alone, without regular personal income, and discrimination is manifested in almost all areas. It is difficult for them to access social and health care and various services and support services, their property rights are threatened, as well as pension and disability insurance, and people with disabilities are especially affected, the Protector of Citizens pointed out.
"They are vulnerable, often exposed to violence and neglect, which is why intergenerational support and solidarity is very important to them. It is also important that we perceive them as a social resource, and not as passive beneficiaries of rights and freedoms who are a social burden", emphasized Zoran Pašalić and explained that the elderly population should not be thought of as a problem, but as a potential. Their work and life experience is invaluable, so it is necessary to develop the possibility for their wider social engagement, if they want it.
The Deputy Protector of Citizens for Gender Equality, Jelena Stojanović, stated this evening that the elderly persons in the Republic of Serbia belong to the most vulnerable category of the population and called on them to actively participate in exercising all the rights that belong to them.
"Elderly persons, especially elderly women in the countryside, have difficulties in accessing the health, social and other services in the community. They are often exposed to abuse and violence in the economic, social and physical sense, and for this reason I invite them to actively participate in the exercise and protection of their rights when they feel that they have been violated", said Stojanović at the opening of the photo exhibition "The Beauty of Aging 2".
At the opening of the exhibition organized by the association "Amity – Strength of Friendship" on the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons, Stojanović called on all elderly persons to contact the Protector of Citizens if they are exposed to any kind of abuse or if they cannot fulfil their rights before the competent authorities.
The Deputy Protector of Citizens added that the most common problems faced by the elderly are poverty and violence, as well as neglect within the family, including disposal of property without their consent and difficulties in exercising the right to help and care of another person.