Fostering Protection of Human Rights of Migrants and Refugees Passing Through Macedonia and Serbia

From 10-14 June 2017 Legis took part in a training course that took place in Belgrade as part of the project HELP ON THE ROUTE – Fostering Protection of Human Rights of Migrants and Refugees Passing Through Macedonia and Serbia. The project is financed by the European Union and implemented by the Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation, Novosadski Humanitarni Centar, Arbeiter Samariter Fund and the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of Macedonia. The coordinating organization of the project in Serbia is Novosadski Humanitarni Centar, whereas in Macedonia it is the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of Macedonia.

The aims of the project are creation of a network of CSOs of Macedonia and Serbia and development of a quick response mechanism when it comes to providing assistance in protection of human rights of migrants and refugees in Macedonia and Serbia. The CSOs from both countries (15 from Serbia and 5 from Macedonia) work on the field and they are in contact with refugees and migrants on a daily basis. This enables them to identify, monitor, document and report on migrants and refugees’ human rights violations while collaborating with one another, consulting the other CSOs within the network and referring cases of violations to the respective relevant state institutions.

Moreover, the Help of the Route network aims at mapping services and jurisdictions, tracking cases, informing migrants of risks and threats while at the same time raises the local communities’ awareness of smugglers and legal consequences. This will help strengthen the network, enabling it to work and use its resources efficiently, and share information of vital importance.

The network started by presenting the International and National Human Rights Network applicable to Macedonia and Serbia: ECHR, ICCPR, the Refugee Convention, CAT, followed by a presentation on common human rights issues arising in the field such as: prohibition of torture, freedom of movement and non-refoulment. In addition, the representatives of the CSOs addressed and discussed the following thematic issues: Status of migrants and asylum seekers in Serbia, Status of migrants and asylum seekers in Macedonia, Gender-Based Violence: prevention and protection, Children’s rights - focus on unaccompanied minors. Later on, the trainers introduced two working tools that the CSOs staff will be employing in the field: human rights monitoring and reporting, and interviewing potential victims.

A representative of the UNHCR in Serbia presented the UNHCR incident reporting system, which was analysed by the participants, who expressed their opinion and ideas. The Ombudsman of Serbia, Miloš Janković was also present in one of the sessions where he mainly talked about the mandate and the rights of refugees and migrants in Serbia, their status and how to turn to this institution for assistance in case of migrants’ human rights violations.

Furthermore, during the training the participants had the opportunity to visit two centres in Belgrade: Miksaliste and Info Park both providing different kinds of aid to refugees and migrants.

Before the training ended, the last task that we had to carry out was to do role play or simulation of a human rights violation case and put into practice the information flow within the network. This activity gave us an insight into how the network would work when it actually starts implementing its respective projects. Last but not least, the training was officially over with the creation of a list of the network’s aims, principles and values where each one of us gave their own contribution.