Advocacy on improvement of victim’s support - Reaching out beyond Belgrade to regional centres
MDTF-JSS in partnership with Victimology Society of Serbia organized Regional meeting in Kragujevac on 9 May 2018 to present the project Raising awareness on victims’ rights in Serbia, brochures Guideline through the criminal justice system for victims and Guideline through victim support in Serbia and Interactive map of victim support services.
The aim of the regional meeting in Kragujevac was to bring together practitioners - representatives of judicial authorities, centres for social work, police, health institutions and civil society organizations, and contribute to the establishment of dialogue, networking and better use of existing resources for assistance and support to victims at local and regional level.
Participants at the meeting in Kragujevac were judges of the Higher and Basic Court in Kragujevac and basic court in Kraljevo, prosecutors, representatives of Social Work Centre, Health institutions and NGOs from Kragujevac.
Main discussion was focused on availability and use of the interactive map as well as the ways for its wider use; The current situation related to the protection of victims in the Kragujevac region; the issue of visibility and availability of assistance for various categories of victims as well as the models of networking and the use of existing resources in the protection of victims. The participants were encouraged to outline examples of good practice related to networking and other forms of cooperation between organizations.
Separate meeting with civil society organizations was organized in the same premise.
Main conclusions from the meetings in Kragujevac are:
A Guideline through the criminal justice system for victims and Guideline through victim support in Serbia are both useful for victims who face crime, but also for practitioners who are working with victims, since they are in better position to refer victims to other relevant services that can help them. A Guide through Victim Support in Serbia is especially important since internet portals are not available to a large number of victims as well as to some institutions/organizations.
The issue of victim support is not systematically regulated, but it depends on enthusiasm of individuals.
In some institutions (centre for social work, prosecutor’s office, court), professionals are overburden with a large number of cases on which they work. One participant reported that a large number of victims give up on their testimony because they are not empowered and encouraged to appear in the court and be persistent in prosecuting the perpetrators.
Regarding to networking and cooperation between organizations and institutions, Kragujevac is a positive example. Cooperation is good and there are examples of good practices related to the implementation of the Protocol on intersectional cooperation in cases of domestic violence. These examples of good practice are now being applied in the neighbouring municipalities of Kraljevo and Vrnjačka Banja. This cooperation model is applicable for providing victim support in cases of victims of other forms of crime as well.
The issue of stable funding of non-governmental organizations, as well as services within state institutions which are project funded, is an important issue and has an impact on the sustainability of services for victims. For example, some participants stated as an example of good practice cooperation of the Higher Prosecutor's Office in Kragujevac and The Unit for the protection of child victims and witnesses in court proceedings. However, the work of this unit is financed through the project and it runs a risk that this service will not be available after September this year, once the project ends, leaving children as particularly vulnerable victims without this very important support.
Several participants stated that they had problems in contacting some organizations/institutions and that some contacts are often changed, which imposes the need for frequent updating of data on organizations / institutions in existing on-line and printed databases.
The media coverage of meeting was done trough RTV5 Kragujevac and Kragujevac newspapers.
Following materials were distributed during the meeting: Brochures Guideline through the criminal justice system for victims and Guideline through victim support in Serbia and Information Materials from the Campaign # PomocPostoji.
Next regional meeting will be held in Novi Sad on 15th of May 2018.