Several working meetings were held with the representatives of the associations whose statute intended goal is the promotion and protection of human rights and freedoms. Further, a public debate took place with the participation of the academia, former convicts and the media so as to exchange views in order to identify the best model of cooperation between the Protector of Citizens and the associations prescribed by the Law in executing the tasks of the NPM. Despite the delicate nature of the problems when it comes to the cooperation between the state bodies and the civil (society) sector, a dynamic debate identified a model appropriate to the current state of play in the Republic of Serbia and acceptable to all the potential participants in execution of these tasks. The public debate lasted around two (2) months, which shows that the principle of transparency, stipulated by the guide of the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), was adhered to.
The Protector of Citizens announced on 29 December 2011 in the “Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia” and on the website of the Protector of Citizens a Public Call for selection of the associations with which it would cooperate in executing the tasks of the NPM. The Call mentioned that the cooperation would cover participation of the associations in visits to places where PDLs are held, drawing up of reports, recommendations, opinions and other documents as well as executing other tasks of the NPM. The deadline for submission of applications in response to the Public Call was 15 days as of the date of its publication in the “Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”. It was pointed out that individual associations would be selected for systemic monitoring of the status of PDLs and presence of torture at police stations, detention units, prisons, stationary-type social welfare institutions and mental hospitals as well as of the status of special vulnerable groups among PDLs, primarily minors and women.
On 26 December 2011 the Protector of Citizens issued a Decision to appoint a Commission to select the associations under the Public Call for cooperation in executing the tasks of the NPM. The Commission members include the Deputy Protector of Citizens, deputy Provincial Ombudsman, Deputy Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection, Madam Assistant Commissioner for Protection of Equality and Madam Secretary General of the Protector of Citizens’ Technical Service.
Under the Public Call for cooperation in performing the duties of the NPM nine (9) applications were submitted, there were no applications received upon the expiry of the set time limit. The applications were submitted by the following: the Victimology Society of Serbia; Belgrade Center for Human Rights; the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia; Dialogue; the Committee for Human Rights - Valjevo; the Human Rights Center - Niš; the International Aid Network (IAN); Mental Disability Rights International Serbia (MDRI-S); and the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM).
On 20 January 2012 the Protector of Citizens’ Commission for Selection of Associations under the Public Call for cooperation in performing the NPM duties was in session. The session made an expert evaluation of the applications received. The Commission recommended to the Protector of Citizens to establish cooperation in performing the duties of the NPM with all the associations that had submitted applications, because all the applicant associations complied with all the requirements envisaged under the Public Call.
However, it also recommended that particular associations should systematically monitor the status of PDLs and presence of torture: at police stations - Belgrade Center for Human Rights; in prisons - Helsinki Human Rights Committee in Serbia; at stationary-type social welfare institutions – MDRI-S; in mental hospitals – IAN; the position of minors in prisons and detention units - Dialogue and the Committee for Human Rights – Valjevo; the position of women in total institutions – the Victimology Society of Serbia. The decision was forwarded to all the applicants under the Public Call and it was made public via the Protector of Citizens’ website.
Following the Commission’s recommendation for selection of associations under the Public Call, the Protector of Citizens will conclude agreements with all the associations that had submitted applications, to establish cooperation in performing the duties of the NPM, and with the relevant associations - those recommended by the Commission to administer systemic monitoring of the status of PDLs and of presence of torture in particular sectors - accepting unconditionally the duty thus specified.