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The Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM) urges political parties to clarify their position before the citizens’ vote on the realization of human rights for marginal populations, primarily in prisons, as well as to determine their rights to access to justice. These are two areas in which we expect changes and significant progress after the elections are held on the 16th of March.

 

1.Please note that after the formation of the new government in 2012, one of the first proposals was the Amnesty Law, which was to reduce the number of prisoners in Serbian prisons. This law did not achieve its proclaimed purpose. For years the granting of parole and an effective re-socialization of prisoners was seen as a legitimate means of reducing the number of prisoners. We feel free to say that they do not work. This misguided policy – which has increased the number of prisoners – along with the latest policy banning the employment of previously incarcerated individuals in the public sector and in prisons (where has been a shortage of employees for years now), has led to a hindrance in re-socialization as well as an increase in the number of re-incarcerated prisoners. Other factors contributing to the increase in incarcerated individuals includes:the general neglect of positive values in society, an increase in gang violence , and other phenomenon that undermine human rights protection systems have been identified.

 

2. The achievement of justice for the majority of citizens is still not possible because the Law on Free Legal Aid, which would enable the access to justice at the expense of the state to the poorest, has not been adopted in Serbia.This is despite the fact that it was announced on several occasions in the last eight years. By voting in a referendum for the adoption of the Constitution, citizens also voted to have this law passed, therefore the delay in achieving the will of the citizens is unacceptable. The elections that are about to be held have once again, put aside the issue of the adoption of the Law on Free legal aid that was in the public debate. It was expected that this law would be harmonized and adopted in the legislature by the National Assembly; however, this has yet to be seen.

 

During the election period we expect to see a clear position on this issue from political parties. The citizens have already expressed their views on this issue and now we must monitor how the National Assembly and Government of Serbia is implementing the citizens’ demands.

 

Civil society organizations have a right to ask questions and we expect an answer because of the experience we have in representing citizens and solving their problems. This right we are using hereby.

 

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