Paunovic: Serbia has made progress in respecting human rights

Belgrade, December 10, 2019 - Director of the Office for Human and Minority Rights of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, Suzana Paunovic, said today that Serbia has made progress in the field of respect for and realization of human rights in the previous period.

Paunovic, opening the conference entitled "You are right!" on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day, pointed out that positive trends in economic growth were particularly visible.

According to her, unemployment is reduced, the economic power of the population is growing, which will have a positive impact on the realization of social and economic rights of citizens.

Combating discrimination and raising awareness of the importance of tolerance remain one of our priorities in the future, said the Director of the Office for Human and Minority Rights.

She added that minority rights are always the subject of special attention of the Government of Serbia, and that the implementation of the Action Plan for the Exercise of Rights of National Minorities has been monitored for four years.

Paunovic recalled that a number of strategies, laws and other documents were adopted in the previous period, emphasizing the importance of the Law on Free Legal Aid, which had been waiting for almost two decades, as well as the positive effects of the implementation of the Law on Protection against Domestic Violence.

According to her, Serbia is about to adopt and implement a new anti-discrimination strategy, whereby our country is determined to continue to improve the situation of human and minority rights.

This commitment, she added, is manifested in the continuous improvement of the legal and institutional framework, increase of capacities and improvement of cooperation of all institutions dealing with human rights in our country, as well as fulfillment of assumed national and international obligations.

She assessed that the current institutional framework was good and had the necessary dose of flexibility, which allowed for changes when needed.

State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice Radomir Ilic emphasized that the ministry was dedicated to improving the legal framework of importance for all human rights, especially regarding access to justice, protection of personal data, designing a new strategic framework and assistance to victims.

The judiciary is the last line of defense of human rights and in many situations, addressing the judiciary is the only way to exercise and protect our rights. For this reason, we are working hard to develop and improve the quality of the judiciary, Ilic emphasized.

Assistant Minister of Interior Zoran Lazarov emphasized that no matter how much progress has been made so far in the promotion of human rights and visible progress in this area, it is necessary to work more intensively to further build equality and tolerance in society.

Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection, Milan Marinovic, said that in 2019, the institution received 15 percent more requests than last year.

This, he explained, can be interpreted in two ways - on the one hand, that the authorities do not respect citizens' demands less, and on the other, that citizens are more aware of their power and ability to request informations.

Also speaking at the conference were UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia, Francoise Jacob, Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, H.E. Sem Fabrizi, Head of the Council of Europe  - Mission in Belgrade, Tobias Flessenkemper and Head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia, H.E. Andrea Orizio.

The participants of the meeting pointed out the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, with the assessment that some progress had been made in Serbia in the previous period.