In February, the Equal Rights Trust and its partners in Serbia, Praxis and the Sandžak Committee for Human Rights and Freedoms launched a project which will protect highly vulnerable persons subject to discrimination and disadvantage. The project builds on the success of our previous work in Serbia which, among other things, developed an equality movement supporting 75 key civil society activists and the local media. Now, we will enhance our call for #EqualityforAll and expand to regions of Serbia where action on non-discrimination is limited.
Our new project was officially launched in Novi Pazar, Serbia - one region of the country where we will be particularly focusing on strengthening civil society action on equality. Addressing lawyers, civil society and media in attendance at the launch event, Co-Director of the Trust, Joanna Whiteman said:
“Over the next two years, the Trust will use its proven approach to address critical gaps in achieving Equality for All in Serbia. With our partners, whose local knowledge and connections to civil society throughout the country is unprecedented, we will carry out research, advocacy, litigation and provide support to human rights activists. By filling the gaps in these areas we can greatly improve the lives of many experiencing disadvantage and discrimination.”
Why Fill the Gaps?
At present, Serbia’s legal and policy framework on equality is broadly in line with international standards but discrimination persists. The framework is not fully effective – something which requires further exploration if equality in the country is to be advanced. Through research, we will address this. Furthermore, we will document the untold story of victims of discrimination by including first-hand testimony from discriminated persons, including from women, , ethnic minorities, Internally Displaced Persons and persons with disabilities.
We will also test the legal framework through strategic litigation. Strategic litigation is an incredibly powerful tool – it ensures access to justice for victims of discrimination as well as raising awareness and increasing pressure on those responsible for creating and ensuring effective implementation of the law, including the judiciary and the government. Furthermore, when legal cases are taken beyond the national level, such as to the European Court of Human Rights, they can raise awareness and improve non-discrimination laws globally and they can enrich the discourse on equality and non-discrimination.
Our Two-Year Plan to Combat Discrimination
To ensure #EqualityforAll in Serbia, over the next two years, we will:
- Build the capacity of 40 human rights organisations so they can effectively document instances of discrimination.
- Publish a study assessing whether the law does protect victims of discrimination in practice or whether it is simply words on paper.
- Support lawyers to improve jurisprudence on discrimination through strategic litigation, and we will journey with them to the regional and international levels when relevant.
- Advocate at national, regional and international levels, making submissions to UN treaty bodies, the European Commission and supporting our partners to engage with national bodies.
- Advocate through community meetings, bringing together those experiencing discrimination, the groups representing them and governmental bodies responsible for preventing discrimination.
- Raise awareness of the issues in the media in Serbia, to raise awareness on discrimination, particularly targeting the government and judiciary, by telling the stories of victims of discrimination and promoting news on strategic litigation cases.
Support Our Movement
If you are an activist in Serbia and would like to find out more about this project and becoming involved in it please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to make a donation to our work in Serbia or our work more broadly, please email email@example.com.
For any other queries please direct these to firstname.lastname@example.org.