- bilten ZAJEDNO PROTIV TORTURE (Serbian)
National preventive mechanisms (NPMs) of the so-called South-East Europe (SEE) established on 26th of March 2013 in Belgrade a network (see agenda here), for the purpose of achieving greater cooperation, exchange of experiences and other joint activities for achieving most effective fulfillment of the NPM mandate specified in the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) in the region.
On this particular occasion, representatives of the NPMs of Albania, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Serbia (in presence and agreement also of one of the ombudsmen from Bosnia and Herzegovina) adopted Declaration on Cooperation (see above), elected the Chairperson (Mr. Ivan Šelih, Deputy Ombudsman of the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Slovenia – for a period of one year) and defined initial objectives. Also participating in the meeting were representatives of the Council of Europe (CoE), Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of the Committee against Torture (SPT), Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), European Commission, European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Provincial Ombudsman of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, various non-governmental organizations and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which co-organized the meeting together with the Ombudsman of the Republic of Serbia.
Developments that followed, were just as promising, and indicated prolific future for the SEE NPM Network. Especially noteworthy are activities regarding the creation of a working group for legal and healthcare field, respectively.
Several welcome opportunities to upgrade the network’s encouraging beginnings soon presented themselves also through suggested co-operation with the CoE, which proposed (1) to finance a meeting of the network, under a joint CoE – European Union regional project for the protection of minority rights in South-East Europe, on the question of possible ethnic discrimination in places of depravation of liberty, (2) to finance a meeting of the network, on the detention conditions of irregular migrants in the region, and (3) to invite individual network members to participate in the CoE’s work in the Russian Federation, where under the so-called Public Monitoring Committees (PMC) Project, some 750 selected Russian citizens and NGO members are being helped to carry out preventive monitoring of places of deprivation of liberty through the territory of this vast country.
And last but not least, shortly after the adoption of the declaration, mutual support of the agreeing parties was soon put to the test, as Office of the Croatian Ombudsman sought support from other members of the network, by way of addressing a questionnaire on carrying out NPM and possible other tasks, in hopes of using the feedback as a supportive argument to Its request for hiring additional staff.
In October 2013, the Austrian VOLKSANWALTSCHAFT filed an application to participate in the SEE NPM Network, which was then discussed at the 1st meeting of the Medical Group of the SEE NPM Network, held in Belgrade on 24 and 25 October 2013, and unanimous decision (also taking into account Article 5 of the Declaration of Cooperation) to admit the NPM Austria to the network membership had been reached.
On May 26-27 another network meeting was held, this time in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Representatives from Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Serbia, and (by that time not yet members) Bulgaria, as well as Hungary, participated. The theme of discussions mostly revolved around NPM annual reports. Also, upon prior application of the Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria to join the SEE NPM Network, unanimous decision to admit Bulgarian NPM to the network had been reached - which enlarged the membership for yet another member.