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Statements

The Protector of Citizens points out that the elderly need support and understanding in order to preserve their dignity and exercise their rights. It is necessary to combat the social exclusion and isolation of the elderly and to take measures dedicated to their active participation in society, the prevention of poverty and the improvement of financial position of the elderly, in the area of providing community services, health and social care, personal and family life, said the Protector of Citizens, Zoran Pasalic, on the occasion of the International Day for Older Persons.

The most common problems faced by the elderly are poverty and neglect within the family, including disposition of their property without their consent, dissatisfaction with exercising the right to material support when they are in a difficult financial and life situation due to lack of income or insufficient amount of income, and when they are in poor health condition, exercising the right to the assistance and care of another person is difficult.

Although domestic violence has ceased to be a “private family matter” and a taboo topic, violence against the elderly is not recognizable and visible enough. The elderly are less likely to report violence, especially when the perpetrators of the violence are their children; in such situations – primarily because of loyalty to their own children – older and infirm parents are willing to suffer the most cruel forms of violence, rather than to seek protection from the system. In one case, which the Protector of Citizens investigated on its own initiative, an elderly woman was a longtime victim of her son's violence. She was kicked, slapped, punched, insulted and belittled. Still, she did not want to press charges against her son, in order to protect him from prosecution. Although the victim did not report him, the police, guardianship authority and the health institutions were aware of the violence but failed to take action to protect the victim and prevent the recurrence of violence. Despite the history of violence against the elderly by her son, police officials did not estimate that there was a risk of violence, and the guardianship authority, instead of violence, was concerned with “repairing family relations between mother and son”. The extent to which the police, health care and guardianship authority estimates were incorrect, and the activities inadequate, was shown by the unfortunate tragic death of the victim, who died at the hands of her own son, which is unacceptable.

The lack of support services is still present, especially home support services that are often necessary for this group of population, given that the elderly often live alone and do not have relatives to care for them. These problems are particularly pronounced in rural areas, where elderly women living in single households are in a particularly difficult position, Pasalic said.

The Pride Week, which began on September 9, ended today with the Pride parade, a traditional stroll through Belgrade under the slogan “I'm not giving up”, and representatives of the Protector of Citizens participated in it. For the sixth consecutive year, the competent authorities ensured the peaceful organization of the Pride Parade in Belgrade, by implementing the necessary security measures. On this occasion, the Protector of Citizens emphasizes the need to adopt laws regulating same-sex marriages and legal recognition of gender identity, in accordance with the requirements of the organizers of this year's Pride Parade in Belgrade, but also the need to fully implement existing laws and the need to raise awareness of the entire society about the importance of respecting and fully exercising the rights of LGBTI persons.

This year, the Protector of Citizens once again points out that intolerance towards LGBTI persons is still noticeable in our society and that these persons face intolerance, hate speech and hate crimes, so it is necessary to make additional efforts on education about tolerance, non-discrimination and non-violent society, as well as to sanction any violation of the rights of members of the LGBTI community. The Protector of Citizens points out that preventive and educational activities are lacking, and that there is no education of students on sexual and reproductive health, which would cover the topic of LGBTI persons and their rights, and no campaigns have been organized to raise public awareness about persons of different sexual orientation and gender identity.

During the Pride Week, representatives of the Protector of Citizens participated in the conference “After 2020: LGBT+ community in the era of populism”, organized by Civil Rights Defenders, as well as the opening of the #LOVEISLOVE: No to Discrimination! exhibition at the French Institute in Serbia, which consists of posters of the Council of Europe campaign against hate speech, and the campaign to promote tolerance towards LGBTI persons, launched by the Da se zna! (Let it be known) association.

In the case that reasonably raised doubt about illegal eavesdropping of journalists, a control conducted established there was no eavesdropping, but that the information about the (legitimate) intentions of certain journalists were obtained in a different , improper way, outside the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior. In order to eliminate irregularities the Ombudsman has sent a series of recommendations that the Ministry of the Interior thoroughly implemented, in accordance with the Law, and of which the Ombudsman was informed. This reduces the space for similar irregularities in the future and improves the work of the Ministry of Interior and the respect for citizens' rights.

Ombudsman Saša Janković calls on all participants of the election campaign, as well as the citizens who are being addressed in the elections, for maximum responsibility and tolerance, and respect for the letter and spirit of electoral legislation so that the electoral rights of citizens could be exercised in a truly democratic atmosphere.
The Ombudsman particularly condemns any form of violence, considering it dangerous and harmful in many ways and appeals to all electoral competitors, their members and sympathizers to demonstrate in every situation that political power is not won nor defended by fists and force, but arguments. The citizens of Serbia are entitled to, and deserve a dignified political competition, not unseemly and repulsive scenes.
The Ombudsman points out that the public should be truthfully, timely and comprehensively informed about events of public interest. That right of citizens, stipulated by the Constitution, should be respected by all who inform citizens about events using various means of communication - including the political parties, both those in power and those who aspire to power.
The Republican Ombudsman once again reminds us that the election campaign should not see the use of public services and resources, and that it should meet the health and social needs of citizens. There is no place for aggression in "door to door" campaigns , and the pre-election activities in schools and involving students, or in kindergartens, playrooms and similar spaces with children are illegal and utterly inappropriate. Any compulsion, intimidation or bribery of citizens to support or withdraw support to a certain political option is illicit and punishable.
Ombudsman has recently met with the Head of the election observation mission of the OSCE, Ambassador Geert-Hinrich Ahrens, to discuss the implementation and protection of the rights of Serbian citizens in free, democratic elections.

The Ombudsman welcomes the activities of the Ministry of Health and the Directorate of Biomedicine in acting on all the recommendations of the Ombudsman in connection with the storage of stem cells and initiating changes in regulations.
Expert Commission of the Republic for transplantation of cells and tissues emphasized, at the instigation of the Directorate of Biomedicine, the advantages of storing stem cells collected from the umbilical cord blood of the newborn in the national banks, of which the Management Board informed the public.
As stated in the act of the Board, the attitude is formed based on the recommendations of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies, which gives absolute priority to keeping stem cells to public (national) banks, while any other way of storing and donating stem cells is a personal right of each individual.
The Ministry of Health has submitted an initiative for amending the regulations to allocate part of the resources that parents of newborns pay into the budget of the Republic of Serbia as fee for obtaining approval for the export of cord blood to completion and opening of the public cord blood bank in Serbia at the Institute for Health Protection of Mother and Child of Serbia "Dr. Vukan Čupić".

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