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Statements

Protector of Citizens, Mr. Zoran Pašalić, called today for the formation of a single database on all types of attacks on journalists, which, in addition to verbal and physical attacks, would also contain parameters that determine all types of economic pressures to which the representatives of this profession are exposed in performing their work.

“Special attention should be given to economic pressures which the journalists have been daily exposed to, and which have been critical for their work performance. The pressures challenge everyday life and work of journalists, their survival in the newsroom, and in the long run the survival of this profession.” Mr. Pašalić said following the meeting of the Working Group for the development of an action plan for the implementation of the Media Strategy.

At the meeting organized by the Ministry of Culture and Information, Mr. Pašalić advocated that a single database should be set up, which would also include economic pressures, and added that, according to the records of complaints received by the Institution of the Protector of Citizens, most problems were caused by economic status and position.

The Protector of Citizens accentuated that this institution had confidence in the existing databases on attacks on journalists kept by professional associations, but that their unmatched data posed a concern.

“In every profession, there are subjective viewpoints regarding the parameters and ways which should be used when something needs to be determined. The most objective parameters and criteria can be provided by an independent body and therefore the Protector of Citizens stands ready to provide it, if all journalist associations agree.” Mr. Pašalić stated at the meeting.

Mr. Pašalić added that in order to achieve that, it was important to what extent journalists associations would accept that someone independent and without a subjective viewpoint defined and classified by groups what journalists' associations and prosecutor's offices had recorded, the data which had most often been divergent.

“A consensus should be reached that this platform brings together existing databases and everything that has not been recorded so far. The institution of the Protector of Citizens is ready to technically fully support the formation of such a base. This requires the consensus of all associations and journalists who would be involved in the work of this platform”, the Protector of Citizens stated.

He announced that in the near future, based on the data on attacks on journalists at its disposal, the Institution of the Protector of Citizens would create a systematized database of what should be recorded and that with the consent of all journalists' associations, the already recorded pressures and attacks on journalists, as well as the data of the public prosecutor's office, would be included in it.

 

After learning from the media about the constant increase in the number of employees contracting the coronavirus at the "Yura" company branch in Niš, the Protector of Citizens instigated another investigation of controlling work legality and regularity of the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy in order to determine all relevant facts and circumstances.

This new control investigation has been instigated against the Labor Inspectorate after the Protector of Citizens, in early August 2020, completed the investigation instigated for the same reasons, and issued an Opinion to the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy.

However, a few days ago, the Protector of Citizens learned from the media about a new wave of infections by SARS-CoV-2 virus at “Yura Corporation Ltd” – the branch in Niš and a steady increase in the number of patients among persons employed and engaged by this employer.

The Protector of Citizens learned from the media that the City Emergency Task Force in Niš met over this issue and stated that the Niš plant "Yura Corporation Ltd" did not respect the protective measures; the Task Force could not impose measures on private employers which was why the competent state bodies needed to be addressed.

Due to this situation among employees in the plant, the Protector of Citizens instigated a new investigation to control the work legality and regularity of the Labor Inspectorate within the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy and to determine all the circumstances in this case.

The Protector of Citizens, in the control investigation, determined omissions in the work of the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration (KIRS) and the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia (MOI RS) over failing to escort and accommodate 16 migrants in the premises of Preševo Reception Center, which is why they arbitrarily went in an unknown direction. KIRS and the Ministry of Interior submitted to the Protector of Citizens divergent data on the time of transfer of migrants from the Tutin Asylum Center to the Preševo Reception Center on 3 April 2020.

In doing so, Commissariat for Refugees and Migration, RC Preševo and the Ministry of Interior, Novi Pazar Police Administration failed to prevent free movement of persons who may be COVID-19 virus carriers, thus augmenting the danger of spreading the contagious disease in the territory of the Republic of Serbia, the Protector of Citizens’ Recommendation reads.

After learning that the media published details from the verdict for sexual intercourse with a child, which they excerpted from the Novi Sad High Court’s press release, the Protector of Citizens instigated the investigation of controlling work legality and regularity of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Serbia requesting the monitoring of the Court’s administration work.

Given the possibility that the child's right to privacy has been violated, the Protector of Citizens requires the Ministry of Justice to monitor the work of the court administration of the High Court in Novi Sad to determine whether the court’s press release, published by the media, was in accordance with the provision of Article 58 of the Court’s Rules of Procedure and the child’s best interests.

The texts published in the media and on social networks provided information from the aggrieved child’s personal and family life, as well as details regarding the events that constitute criminal offences, which, according to the texts, were taken from the Novi Sad High Court’s press release, the Protector of Citizens states.

"I have seen for myself on multiple occassions that newspaper articles and publications that can cause an immediate sensation in the public leave severe consequences and great trauma for children for the rest of their lives," the Protector of Citizens Mr. Zoran Pašalić said.

Mr. Pašalić once again urges all journalists and media editors to take care primarily of the protection of child’s best interests and then to the protection of their privacy, which does the Law, when publishing any data on child abuse, even court decisions.

The Protector of Citizens requests the Ministry of Justice to submit information on the results of the performed supervision within 15 days, with a copy of the relevant documentation.

The Protector of Citizens determined that the Social Welfare Center in Novi Sad, by failing to carry out its competencies during the state of emergency imposed due to COVID-19 pandemic, denied the right to protection against exploitation, violence, abuse and neglect to children whose family was under the Center’s correctional supervision.

In own-initiative investigation of controlling work legality and regularity instigated upon learning from the media that one child was sexually abused at the shipyard, the Protector of Citizens has determined that the SWC in Novi Sad did not carry out its activities, during the state of emergency, although it had been acquainted with the abused children’s family since 2016 and despite of the fact that they suspected of the elder child being abused even before the state of emergency.

By completely suspending the work during the state of emergency, the SWC in Novi Sad did not timely protect the minors’ rights and interests which is why the Protector of Citizens requested that Center’s manager to review the work of the employees who were tasked with protecting them and who did not take a single action from 10 March 2020 to 8 May 2020, despite the confirmed suspicion of child sexual abuse.

The Protector of Citizens determined that the family has been on the Center's records since 2016 when the disappearance of the elder child was reported, that in 2018 a younger child was found on the beach without supervision, that neighbors reported that children were without adequate supervision, that in 2019, the school reported suspicions of physical punishment of the child and that in the same year there was a suspicion of sexual harassment of the elder child, which was confirmed in 2020.

It was also determined that the Novi Sad SWC initiated correctional supervision over the exercise of parental rights, but that from 10 March 2020 until 8 May 2020, none of the activities within that supervision have been carried out.
Using the state of emergency as a reason for failing to act and conduct correctional supervision in such difficult family circumstances is impermissible because child rights cannot and must not be limited, the Protector of Citizens points out adding that the competent public authorities should make a plan of work and manner how to provide services to citizens in emergency circumstances.

The Protector of Citizens asks the Novi Sad SWC to provide immediate and continuous correctional supervision, especially in case of suspicion of sexual abuse of a child, and to set clear priorities in the work in case of emergency and extraordinary circumstances.

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