Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Presentation of Study Equality in Practice - Implementing Serbia’s Equality Laws

On 12 February 2019, the study Equality in Practice - Implementing Serbia’s Equality Laws was presented in the Media Centre in Belgrade as one of the results of the two-year project entitled Improving the Equality Legal and Policy Framework in Serbia and Monitoring Implementation of Equality Norms and Policies, implemented by partner organisations: Praxis, London-based organisation Equal Rights Trust and Sandžak Committee for the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms, with the support of the European Union.

The study was prepared by the Equal Rights Trust in cooperation with two professional consultants: Prof. Nevena Petrušić, PhD and Lawyer Kosana Beker.

The study addresses the issue of continuous discrimination in Serbia, analyses the exiting legal and political framework and assesses its effectiveness in practice.   In the absence of similar study, the aim of this comprehensive study is to serve as a key reference point and evidence base for all those who work on combating discrimination and promoting fundamental human rights and freedoms. On the other hand, the study aims to influence the government and the judicial system with its own authority and to serve as an effective tool in advocating for improving the efficiency of the anti-discriminatory framework.

The study is based on extensive research conducted over 12-month period including: field research conducted by civil society organisations in different regions of Serbia; focus groups with survivors of discrimination, lawyers and civil society organisations in Niš, Belgrade, Novi Pazar, Pančevo and Vranje; over 55 one-to-one interviews with key stakeholders including lawyers, government and private sector representatives.  In addition, the study includes the analysis and assessment of the compliance of Serbia’s anti-discrimination framework with the country’s international and regional obligations, and the analyses of the extent to which Serbia has adopted the practical measures that are necessary to ensure that its equality laws provide protection in practice.

The findings contained in this study raise serious questions about the efficiency of legislation in practice and indicate that there are areas in which the legislative framework does not ensure international best practice, despite the undisputed progress achieved by Serbia in the past decade in improving conditions and opportunities for exercising the right to equality through the adoption of the Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination and the establishment of an independent body for the protection of equality. The study has revealed a widespread lack of awareness of the existence of anti-discrimination legal framework both among potential victims of discrimination and among public authorities and institutions, and has shown that individuals are unable or unwilling to seek legal redress due to the cost of proceedings and a lack of confidence in the judiciary as an efficient and independent form of redress.

The study provides recommendations that are also priorities that should be addressed in the future in order to improve the efficiency of the Serbia’s existing anti-discrimination legal and political framework in practice.

Joanna Whiteman from the Equal Rights Trust and Lawyer Kosana Beker spoke about the experience of conducting research for the study, the content of the study and expectations regarding its impact on improving the efficiency of protection against discrimination in Serbia. The current challenges from the aspect of various vulnerable groups were presented by civil society representatives who were also members of the Working Group established to provide expert support for the study:  Dijana Malbaša, Autonomous Women’s Centre; Osman Balić, League of Roma; Milan Đurić, Gayten-LGBT; Vladimir Petronijević, Grupa 484; Lazar Stefanović, Mental Disability Rights Initiative.

Study is available in Serbian  and English.

See ERT's statement here.

Media coverage:
Romano Them

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Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action