Friday, 23 April 2010

Forty-Ninth Sitting of the Justice and Administration Committee

As part of the National Assembly’s oversight role, on 23 April the Justice and Administration Committee held a sitting at the Penal Correctional Facility in Nis.



As part of the National Assembly’s oversight role, on 23 April the Justice and Administration Committee held a sitting at the Penal Correctional Facility in Nis.

The Committee sitting was attended by members of the Committee on Health and the Family and the Committee on Labour, Ex-Servicemen’s and Social Issues. They visited the Penal Correctional Facility in Nis in order to gain insight into the conditions under which prison sanctions were enforced at the facility. During their stay in Nis they also visited the Special Psychiatric Hospital Gornja Toponica where they were briefed on the living conditions and protection of the rights of the involuntarily hospitalised patients. The visit was organised with the support of the UNDP programme.

At the sitting, chaired by Committee Chairman Bosko Ristic, the deputies discussed the Ministry of Justice Information on the situation and problems in the field of enforcement of prison sanctions. In addition to the deputies, the sitting was attended by the Minister of Justice Snezana Malovic, Deputy Ombudsman Milos Jankovic, Head of the Directorate for Enforcement of Prison Sanctions Milan Obradovic and OSCE representative Natasa Novakovic.

Bosko Ristic emphasised that these visits aim to strengthen the Parliament’s role i.e. ensure the National Assembly’s oversight over the implementation of the law. According to him, monitoring the situation in correctional facilities should become regular practice that would allow the deputies direct insight into the conditions under which prison sanctions are enforced, accommodation and safety conditions, health care, as well as adjustment to international standards and other aspects of serving prison sentences.

Minister of Justice Snezana Malovic emphasised the noticeable rise in crimes related to narcotics and organised crime in recent years. She corroborated the state’s intention to decisively deal with these incidents by the fact that the number of persons sentenced in the first three months of this year was 400 more than in the same period last year. The fact that the prisons are full presents a huge problem. Currently, Serbian prisons house 11 400 inmates, 7 100 of which are sentenced, 2 900 are currently detained, while about 1 400 are apprehended under other grounds. Serbia has 20 correctional facilities in total, eight are penal correctional facilities, 17 district prisons, and the rest are educational correctional facilities and prison hospitals.

At the end of the discussion, Committee Chairman Bosko Ristic proposed to pass a recommendation that the Justice and Administration Committee create a subcommittee for the external control of enforcement of prison sanctions.

In the meeting at the Special Psychiatric Hospital Gornja Toponica, the Chairman of the Justice and Administration Committee Bosko Ristic stated that, so far, there had been no mechanisms of external control to guarantee patients hospitalised against their will full protection. Pointing out that the mechanism should be connected with the National Assembly and competent ministries, he announced that institutions of this type should be obligated to submit regular reports on the conditions and implementation of standards regarding the protection of these patients’ rights, as part of the parliament’s control function. Ristic also mentioned the organisation of announced and unannounced visits in future in order to monitor the progress of the protection mechanisms.

The Chairman of the Committee on Labour, Ex-Servicemen’s and Social Issues Meho Omerovic said that the National Assembly has launched a control function and insight into the implementation of laws from the field of human rights protection and that the representatives of all three committees and all political parties there present, as responsible people, want to help protect the rights of those affected by the law.

On the behalf of the Committee on Health and the Family, Gordana Paunovic-Milosavljevic said that the laws regulating the field were outdated, that involuntary hospitalisation of patients was governed by laws from 1982 and that it was high time to pass a law to protect the rights of the patients.


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