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Activities

Mr. Zoran Pašalić, the Protector of Citizens met today with the Minister of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy of Serbia Mr. Zoran Đorđević, the Roma National Minority Council President, Mr. Dalibor Nakić, and the National Council Executive Board Chairwoman, Ms. Pava Čabrilovski.

The meeting discussed the protection and exercise of the Roma national minority rights in the field of social welfare and aid during the coronavirus epidemic. They also exchanged opinions on defining new measures to strengthen the position of this national minority after the health crisis.

The Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy posts on its website, on a daily basis, information on the number of social welfare institutions and residential homes for adults and the elderly where the presence of the COVID-19 virus has been confirmed.

Therefore, the Protector of Citizens requested today, by way of separate acts, from 20 social welfare institutions and residential homes for adults and the elderly whose founder is the Republic of Serbia and AP Vojvodina and where the presence of coronavirus was confirmed, to submit complete relevant documentation and answers to questions related to the circumstances and measures taken to protect the health of beneficiaries of these institutions, in accordance with the Law and as soon as possible, given the circumstances of the declared state of emergency.

Given the fact that the Protector of Citizens does not have the competence or powers to control the work of private social welfare services providers for home residence of adults and the elderly in the Republic of Serbia, he called on the

Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy to conduct direct supervision in seven institutions of this type where the emergence of coronavirus was recorded, determine all relevant facts, order measures within its competence pertinent to identified omissions, and to keep the Protector of Citizens informed, along with submitting comprehensive relevant documentation.

Following the receipt of the response, the Protector of Citizens will decide on the further course of the investigation and the need to adopt measures within the competence of this body.

 

Mr. Zoran Pašalić, the Protector of Citizens, continued a series of video conferences with his colleagues, this time with the Ombudsman for Human Rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina, prof. dr Ljubinko Mitrović and the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms of Montenegro Mr. Siniša Bjeković. They discussed the protection of human rights and freedoms during coronavirus, and took the occasion to exchange opinions on the challenges they met in everyday work.

Mr. Pašalić said that Serbia had had no dilemma who to protect first in the coronavirus epidemic, population or economy, and he added that the measures put in place by the state were primarily concerned with citizens’ health protection.

Since the beginning of the health crisis, the activities of the Protector of Citizens focused on helping and admitting our citizens who were "stranded" at borders and airports around the world. Among other things, Mr. Pašalić accentuated that, the Ombudsmen of Slovenia and Croatia, states at the borders of which many our citizens had been stranded, provided great help in enabling them to reach our country in the safest way possible. Another activity that followed included visits to quarantines and provisional hospitals and monitoring the conditions for citizens’ accommodation. During that time, the Secretariat of the Protector of Citizens intensified its work and extended its working hours so that it worked seven days a week, from 8 am to 10 pm, in order to respond to all citizens' addresses.

The Protector of Citizens of the Republic of Serbia, the Ombudsman for Human rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms of Montenegro agreed that even the most restrictive measures could not replace the solidarity and developed awareness of citizens about the danger that threatened us.

They pointed out that this type of contact was the most effective and that it was the right way to solve, both systemic and individual, problems in this area.

Today, the Protector of Citizens, Mr. Zoran Pašalić, met via video call with the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation Ms. Tatiana Nikolayevna Moskalkova and discussed human and minority rights protection and challenges they encountered every day after the proclamation of the coronavirus epidemic. In addition, one of the topics of the discussion was the improvement of future cooperation between the two institutions.

Mr. Pašalić explained that after the declaration of the state of emergency, only 25 percent of the employees were working in the premises, whereas the number of citizens addressing the Protector of Citizens increased tenfold in comparison to the previous period. He added that there were more than 250 telephone calls daily, whereas the number of written addresses was around 70. Mr. Pašalić highlighted that the citizens indicated in their complaints the violations of rights in numerous fields and that the Protector of Citizens paid special attention to the vulnerable groups rights protection.

“This is why I addressed competent state authorities and local self-government units in order to enable the elderly, persons with disabilities or mobility issues to receive unhindered care during the measure of movement restrictions due to the state of emergency”, Mr. Pašalić underlined.

Ms. Moskalkova specified that, since the declaration of the epidemic, the Russian Federation put in place an array of measures to protect the population, paying particular attention to those measures related to the protection of vulnerable groups rights. She pointed out that during the health crisis, complaints related to the problems of testing citizens for the presence of coronavirus were predominant, but also that a large number of them sought protection in other areas of law.

Following a control investigation, the employees from the Emergency Response Department from the Protector of Citizens, established that there were 88 confirmed coronavirus patients in Niš Clinical Center. Sanitary and epidemiological requirements were met in the facility, as well as the conditions of prompt and permanent communication.

Tomorrow, the Protector of Citizens will monitor the conditions of accommodation in the provisional hospital in Čair Hall in Niš with a view to examining if the facility meets the proscribed requirements for the accommodation of patients. Following the visit, the conclusions will be made public.

The Protector of Citizens will continue to monitor the patients accommodation conditions in hospitals, provisional hospitals, quarantines and facilities for safe healthcare accommodation during the corona virus epidemic and will handle citizens’ complaints or launch own initiative investigations in cases of violations of citizens' rights.

 

Following the conversation with Mr. Dalibor Nakić, the President of the Roma National Minority Council, Mr. Zoran Pašalić, the Protector of Citizens, issued official letters to every local self-government unit urging them to take necessary activities within their competences as soon as possible in the Roma settlements, and provide basic existential living conditions, primarily drinking water and water for maintaining hygiene, food packages and hygienic packages.
In order to protect the rights of the Roma national minority during a state of emergency, the Protector of Citizens will monitor the situation in each local self-government unit with the Roma National Minority Council and react in the event that they are violated.

Since many citizens addressed the Protector of Citizens regarding difficulties in obtaining movement permits, during the movement prohibition, for those citizens looking after our citizens with disabilities, the elderly with mobility impairments, and particularly children and everybody else who needs a carer, especially in the period Saturday 1pm - Monday 5am, the Protector of Citizens contacted the Prime Minister in order to solve the problem timely.

The Prime Minister, Ms. Ana Brnabić, emphasized in communication with the Protector of Citizens that this problem would be solved as soon as possible.

The citizens will be enabled to file a permission request electronically, and the permission will be granted electronically as well, in order to make the entire system more efficient.

Mr. Zoran Pašalić, the Protector of Citizens, issued an Initiative to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, Ms. Ana Brnabić to amend the Regulations on the measures during the state of emergency, so that the measures prohibiting the movement enshrined in Article 1a do not apply to domestic violence victims who leave their houses or other accommodation facilities, households or estate, in order to protect themselves from violence.

 

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