The Protector of Citizens of the Republic of Serbia

The Protector of Citizens of the Republic of Serbia  is an independent and autonomous public authority, introduced in the legal system of the Republic of Serbia in 2005 under the Law on the Protector of Citizens. The position of this institution was substantially reinforced by the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia of 2006, which made the Protector of Citizens a constitutional category, in line with best international practices. Since 2011, in accordance with the Law amending the Law on Ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Protector of Citizens has been designated as the National Preventive Mechanism.

The Protector of Citizens is mandated to control the legality and regularity of operations of public authorities with respect to the exercise of individual and collective rights of citizens and to protect and promote human and minority freedoms and rights.

Only six authorities are exempted from his control: National Assembly, President of Republic, Government of Serbia, Constitutional Court, courts and public prosecution’s offices.

The Protector of Citizens pays special attention to the protection of rights of persons deprived of their liberty, gender equality, children’s rights, rights of national minorities and rights of persons with disability. For these special areas, four Deputy Protectors of Citizens are elected in the National Assembly, upon the proposal by the Protector of Citizens.

The Protector of Citizens has particularly been active in oversighting the work of security sector, including the Police.

The Protector of Citizens employs both individual complaint-handling and systemic approaches in its work.

Since the establishment in 2007, more than 115.000 citizens have approached the Protector of Citizens. Citizens filed over 38.000 individual complaints to him, out of which more than 35.000 have been resolved. Majority of complaints relates to the principles of good governance and economic and social rights. The Protector of Citizens observes steady annual increase of the number of complaints. In 2016, the threshold of 6.000 complaints has been reached for the first time. The Protector of Citizens has launched almost 10.500 investigations (based on complaints or his own initiative) since 2007 and has determined more than 7.000 deficiencies (omissions) in the work of administrative authorities. Around 90% of his recommendations have been implemented.

The Protector of Citizens also has the right of legislative initiatives and the power to initiate proceedings before the Constitutional Court for the assessment of constitutionality and legality of laws, other regulations and general acts. Since 2007, more than 50 legislative initiatives of the Protector of Citizens have been accepted. The Protector of Citizens has initiated seven proceedings before the Constitutional Court for the assessment of constitutionality and legality of laws. Out of this seven, six laws have been successfully challenged, while one is still under procedure.

The Protector of Citizens is the National Human Rights Institution of Serbia, established and functioning in accordance with the Paris Principles. It has been accredited as an A-status National Human Rights Institution by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI). It regularly reports to the UN treaty bodies and cooperates with the special procedures mandate-holders.

The Protector of Citizens regularly submits its Annual Report to the National Assembly. The Annual Report contains general and specific assessments and information on the respect of the rights of citizens (including in particular human and minority rights), deficiencies identified in the work of public authorities, proposals for improvement of citizens’ position vis-à-vis public authorities and account of the activities carried out and the costs incurred by the Protector of Citizens. Every annual report contains a specific sections devoted to the police issues. All annual reports are available in English at www.ombudsman.rs.

The Constitution and the Law on the Protector Citizens are attached.

Organisation

Mr. Zoran Pašalić is the actual Protector of Citizens of the Republic of Serbia.

Mr. Miloš Janković is Deputy Protector of Citizens.

Powers

The Protector of Citizens has the power to control the respect of the rights of citizens, establish violations resulting from acts, actions or failure to act by administrative authorities, if they are violations of the laws, regulations and other general acts of the republic.

The Protector of Citizens has the power to control the legality and regularity of the work of administrative authorities.

The Protector of Citizens is entitled to propose laws which fall within his/her mandate.

The Protector of Citizens has the power to launch initiatives with the Government or National Assembly for the amendment of laws or other regulations or general acts, if he deems that violations of citizens’ rights are a result of deficiencies of such regulations. He also has the power to launch initiatives for new laws, other regulations and general acts, if he considers it significant for exercising and protecting citizens’ rights.

The Government, or the competent Committee of the National Assembly, are obliged to consider the initiatives of the Protector of Citizens.

In the process of drafting of regulations, the Protector of Citizens has the power to give his opinion to the Government and National Assembly on draft laws and regulations if they concern the issues relevant for the protection of citizens’ rights.

The Protector of Citizens has the power to initiate proceedings before the Constitutional Court for the assessment of constitutionality and legality of laws, other regulations and general acts.

The Protector of citizens has the power to publicly recommend the dismissal of an official who is responsible for violation of citizen’s right, i.e. to initiate disciplinary proceedings against an employee of the administrative authorities who is immediately responsible for performed injury, when the recurring behavior of the official or employee reveals the intent to refuse co-operation with the Protector of Citizens or when it is determined that the injury made to the person caused material or other serious damage to that person.

If revealed that activities of an official or an employee of the administrative authorities contain elements of criminal or other punishable act, the Protector of Citizens has power to submit request, i.e. to file a motion to initiate criminal, misdemeanor or other appropriate proceedings.

Administrative authorities are obliged to co-operate with the Protector of Citizens and enable his access to their premises and information available to them, which are of importance for the proceedings he runs, i.e. for the fulfillment of the goal of his preventive operation, regardless of the degree of confidentiality of such information, unless it is contrary to the law.

The Protector of Citizens has power to interview any employee of administrative authorities when it is of significance for the proceedings he runs.

The Protector of Citizens, i.e. Protector of Citizens’ Deputy, has the duty of confidentiality as regards the information acquired during his term of office even after the end of office.

Everyone working in the Protector of Citizens’ Secretariat is subject to the pledge of secrecy.

The Protector of Citizens has authority to freely access correctional institutions and other places where persons deprived of liberty are held and to speak in privacy with those persons.

The President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and members of the Government, the Speaker of the National Assembly and officials in administrative agencies are obligated to receive the Protector of Citizens at his request at latest within fifteen days.

Number of Complaints in 2016 in the field of police complaints 

406 complaints (6,47% of the total number of complaints received in 2016)