Human Rights Protection

zastita ljudskih prava

At some point in life, everyone has encountered the term "human rights" or has experienced some kind of human rights violation. Nevertheless, although the term is familiar to nonprofessionals, few people really understand what lies behind this legal term: what human rights exist, what situations are described as violations of those rights, and how they can be protected.

The attorneys employed in the Pekić Law Office with their extensive knowledge acquired through international education and training stand out with their knowledge in this particular area.

What are human rights and freedoms?

The term human rights relate to the idea that all human beings have certain rights, gained by birth, regardless of the country they live in, nationality, race or gender, but which cannot be taken away from them in any case. Due to them being universal, (every person has them) and inalienable (cannot be taken away), these rights are commonly known among the nonprofessionals as "basic human rights", "elementary human rights" or "international human rights". Human rights are predicted and guaranteed by international and internal legal acts. There are a number of conventions at the international level that deal with this particular topic, the most significant of which are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) with the accompanying protocols; whilst internally human rights in Serbia are guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia. The importance of protecting human rights is supported by the existence of numerous human rights commissions, many human rights organizations, national human and civil rights advisers, human rights offices in state governments, etc.

The second section of the Constitution articles 18 to 81, predicts human and minority rights and freedoms. The Constitution of the Republic of Serbia highlights human rights as the most important category, that all, even the state authority, have to abide by. The aforementioned section of the Constitution was written modelled by the previously mentioned European convention on human rights that served as a good exemplary model for regulating this matter legally. Office for Human and Minority rights existed within the Government of the Republic of Serbia until 2020 when due to the reorganization of state resources, the same has been abolished, and its jurisdiction was transferred to the newly formed Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue.

What human rights are there?

In this part of the text, we will briefly deal with the human rights given by the international and internal regulations, accompanied by a short explanation. It would be almost impossible to list all human rights since there is no exact, unanimous list. Therefore, we will do our best to outline the basic human rights by grouping as many of them as possible into the following categories:

  • Right to life - protects people from serious crimes such as murder, torture, rape, massacres, etc.
  • Right to equality - guarantees all citizens equal rights before the law, as well as the prohibition of any kind of discrimination (based on gender, race, nationality, etc.).
  • Right to freedom - guarantees all people freedom of religion, association, assembly and movement.
  • Political rights - guarantee freedom to participate in political life through freedom of speech, protest, and participation in government.
  • Right to a fair trial - protects people from abuses of power such as illegal detention, secret trials, and unjust sanctions.
  • Economic and social rights - guarantee the right to education, protection from poverty, etc.

Each of the aforementioned notions is broken down into more specific human rights and freedoms.

The protection of human rights and freedoms

The protection of human rights in Serbia and human rights in Serbia in general

As mentioned above, human rights and their protection in Serbia are guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia. In case of violation of one of the human rights guaranteed by the Constitution, a legal remedy, the so-called constitutional complaint, can be filed, and the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Serbia decides on it. This also means that the constitutional complaint cannot be filed for the violation of all rights, but only for the violation of the human and minority rights stipulated in the Constitution. Certainly, the spectrum of human rights in Serbia, which are stipulated in the Constitution, is broad, so there is no lack of corresponding regulations, but it is important to fight for one's rights.

It is very important to point out that a constitutional complaint is a very complex remedy and that the time limit for filing this complaint is 30 days from the date of receipt of the judicial decision of the body that is challenged by this remedy. The importance of the human rights attorney at law, in this case, is very great, since in case of failure to comply with the above- mentioned deadline, the right in question is considered lost.

The exercise and protection of human rights in the Republic of Serbia is carried out through proceedings before a competent court or other state body. In these proceedings, Pekić Law Office provides, among others, the following legal services:

  • Protection of human rights and freedoms before domestic courts;
  • Filing a constitutional complaint with the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Serbia;
  • Representation in the proceedings seeking compensation for material and non- material damage caused by the human rights violation;
  • Providing clients with oral and written opinions in connection with the possible violation of the human rights – Pekić Law Office acts as a solicitor/adviser for the human rights;
  • Filing petitions to the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection, in case of human rights violation within his jurisdiction;
  • Filing petitions to the Commissioner for Protection of Equality;
  • Filing petitions to the Ombudsman.

International human rights protection

European Court of Human Rights (commonly referred to as the "court in Strasbourg")

In cases where the protection of human rights in Serbia does not lead to success, it should be noted that there are other mechanisms for ensuring the international protection of human rights, which may prove to be more effective than the procedures for ensuring the protection of human rights in Serbia. Having exhausted the constitutional complaint as the last remedy under the internal law of the Republic of Serbia, the next instance (at the international level) is the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. It should be noted that there are no "international human rights" because the term refers to the same rights at the national and international level. However, there are international organizations that have their own procedures for the protection of human rights, which are independent of the procedures for the protection of human rights in Serbia.

The realization of the human rights protection before this court is achieved by filing an application which indicates that human rights have been violated - the provisions of the European Convention on Protection of Human Rights. This remedy is commonly known as "Lawsuit to the International Court of Human Rights" among nonprofessionals. The decisions made by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg are legally binding on the public authorities of the Republic of Serbia.  What is more, the previous decisions of the European Court of Human rights represent court practice, which has an indirect binding character in Serbia. Therefore, the protection of human rights is improved by further development and by following the court practice of the European Court in Strasbourg.

It is important to note that in order to file an application with this Court, an attorney must have extensive experience and knowledge. This is also supported by the fact that this court rejects over 90% of the application filed because they do not meet the strict formal criteria. Considering the fact that the Strasbourg court considers application as a serious legal remedy, the attorneys employed in the Pekić Law Office have spent a lot of time perfecting this mechanism of human rights protection, for which they have acquired expertise through international education and training.

The UN Human Rights Committee

The United Nations take the matter of human rights very seriously. An important international document providing protection of human rights in Serbia is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of the United Nations which establishes the Human Rights Committee, alongside the Protocol enabling the filing of a petition to the Human Rights Committee in a case where one feels that his/her human rights have been violated. Among the nonprofessionals this body is often, refer to as the Human Rights Committee; however, it should be noted that there is a separate body of the UN named the Committee, thus, it is crucial to differentiate between these organizations. Serbia has ratified both documents so to make them legally binding, however, this procedure is not as efficient as the procedure conducted by the European Court of Human Rights. The UN and the European Court of Human Rights, as a part of the Council of Europe, are unique human rights organizations.

Within the international protection of human rights, Pekić Law Office provides (among others) the following legal services:

  • Drawing up a document to initialize the proceedings – application, and legal representation in the proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg;
  • Drawing up a document to initialize the proceedings before the UN Human Rights Committee – petition, and legal representation in the proceedings;
  • Pekić Law Office is your human rights advisor. We provide consultations and interpretations of the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights and the included protocols, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Human rights attorney at law – Pekić Law Office

If you believe that your human rights have been violated and you are in need of judicial protection of your human rights, you can contact our Law Office via email pekic@attorney.rs, or by filling in the contact form on our website or by sending a message on our Facebook or LinkedIn profile.