Defending the Defenders

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Project title: Defending the Defenders

Project duration: January 2020 – December 2022

Donor: Delegation of the European Union

             (European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR))

Partners: Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM),

                  People’s Parliament Leskovac (PPL) and

                  Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP)

About the project: The main goal of the project is to strengthen the capacities of human rights defenders both nationally and locally in Serbia. The project aims to improve the situation for human rights defenders such that they can perform their tasks with more confidence; advocate for greater alignment of the existing legislation to international human rights standards; and develop an early warning mechanism for reporting breaches of rights and pressures. The project will involve and refer to different categories of human rights defenders (women HRDs, HRDs dealing with the past, LGBT rights HRDs, environment HRDs etc.)

In recent years, human rights defenders in Serbia have been experiencing a growing number of systematic attacks intended to silence their voices. While Serbia has developed a legal framework to protect freedoms of assembly, association and expression, in practice, there is an alarming level of harassment, verbal and physical violence, death threats, smear campaigns and hate speech perpetrated towards human rights defenders.

The project activities include preparation of annual reports on the implementation of policies and legal frameworks on the protection of human rights defenders in Serbia. This will consolidate relevant information, providing for much needed and easily accessible data necessary for the creation of impartial international monitoring reports.

The project will also involve creating a database to raise public awareness about violations of human rights occurring in the country. This up-to-date online database with verified information regarding pressure and violations of activists’ rights will be a first of its kind in the region and will inform domestic and international reports, inspire advocacy action, and influence legislation and policy change based on evidence.

During the project period, free legal support will also be provided to human rights defenders who have experienced major human rights violations.

One part of the project will include training sessions on human rights defence and organizational safety which will be delivered in different parts of Serbia. This will equip the local human rights defenders, civil society organizations, and activist to detect and report human rights violations, effectively respond to them and be the part of the subgrating scheme that shall be developed in the second project year (2021).

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