Effectiveness of National Human Rights Institutions in the Western Balkans

This regional report published by CRD is the result of the research project which included independent institutions established by the state to protect and promote human rights in Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.

The research took place in the period July – November 2019. Firstly, a comprehensive methodology for assessing and evaluating the effectiveness of national human rights bodies was developed, so as to enable ranking and regional comparability. Subsequently, independent experts for Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia conducted research, including data collection, analysis and ranking.

The three countries have established an ombudsperson as the main national human rights institution. In addition, specialized human rights bodies have been created that deal with non-discrimination/equality (EBs), data protection (SADP) and free access to information (FAI) – some of them with a double mandate.

From Montenegro, two double-mandate bodies are considered as NHRIs in the scope of this research: the Ombudsperson (having also the mandate of an EB) and the Agency for Personal Data Protection and Free Access to Information.

Four single-mandate bodies have been established in North Macedonia as NHRIs: the Ombudsperson, the Commission for Protection against Discrimination, the Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information and the Data Protection Directorate.

In Serbia, in addition to the Ombudsperson – Protector of Citizens (PC), the Commissioner for Protection of Equality and the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection (Commissioner) has the role of an NHRI.

Effectiveness was assessed in four domains:
(1) Independence and ability to work without pressure,
(2) Availability of resources and capacities,
(3) Information, accessibility, and cooperation with other relevant actors, and
(4) Mandate and powers.

The assessment was based on a previously defined set of indicators, derived from relevant international standards. Research results per country were synthesized in three country reports, elaborated by Jelena Đankić (Montenegro), Biljana Kotevska (North Macedonia) and Ivana Krstić (Serbia). Based on these reports, this regional report provides a comparative overview of the NHRIs in Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.

In this regional report, we present the methodology, research findings, as well as recommendations. The research findings are presented comparatively per each domain. This approach was taken as it was considered more appropriate to focus on comparative analysis of the subject matters, resulting in a more comprehensive presentation of the status quo, while also providing and discussing the results per country within the domain.

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