Support to Refugees and Asylum-Seekers in Serbia

Donor: UNHCR

Duration: January 2016 – December 2016

Throughout 2016, the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights has continued to provide free and professional legal aid to refugees and asylum-seekers on Serbian territory, with support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as it has been doing since 2012. In spite of the fact that the Law on Asylum foresees the right to free legal aid in the asylum procedure, the state itself has not secured such aid, leaving it to civil society to provide refugees with free legal aid and information, these being prerequisites for enjoying the rights they are entitled to in our country. The majority of refugees who were recorded in Serbia over the past few years did not stay in our country, moving instead towards those countries of the European Union they perceive as safe countries of asylum. The Belgrade Centre, apart from providing legal representation to persons seeking asylum in Serbia, provides legal aid to these persons as well, informing them of the possibility of submitting an asylum application in Serbia, so that their status under international law might be regulated before domestic bodies as well, thereby allowing them to fully access all of the rights they are entitled to under domestic and international legislation.

Considering the ever-increasing resolve of many states to shut their borders to refugees despite their obligations under international law not to do so, the Belgrade Centre has been advocating intensely for changes and improvements in the policy of Serbia when it comes to accessing the asylum procedure and the functioning of the asylum system. In addition it has been advocating to change the mechanism for the integration of persons who are granted asylum in Serbia, seeing as how this issue has been generally neglected since the Law on Asylum entered into force in 2008. Bearing this in mind, the Belgrade Centre continues to cooperate with the proper authorities in order to strengthen their capacity by means of seminars, training sessions, and expert publications.

The Belgrade Centre continues to provide assistance to all persons interested in seeking asylum in Serbia or who are otherwise at risk of having their rights under international and domestic law violated.

Making a Difference for Refugee Children in Europe

Donor: International Rescue Committee / DFID UK Aid

Duration: July 2016 – June 2017

This project envisages strengthening the capacity of local and national institutions in Serbia in terms of protection of the unaccompanied minors among migrants and refugees. Special focus will be put on those who are not entering the asylum system of Serbia and thus cannot use any of the available protection services reserved for registered asylum seekers. During the implementation period, the BCHR will provide the UAC refugees and migrants with information and legal advise and will also assist in cases of foster parenting. As a result of educational activities envisaged in this project, the BCHR will organize training sessions and seminars, aimed to improve the level of knowledge of national and local stakeholders in terms of international refugee and child human rights law and standards, which should lead to the establishment of a protection system with adequate legal safeguards, a protection-sensitive screening mechanism and sufficient capacity for processing the increasing number of asylum applications.

Protection Response in Dimitrovgrad

Donor: International Rescue Committee i Open Society Foundations

Duration: February 2016 – August 2016


The aim of the project was to provide consistent protection monitoring and a referral mechanism in the area where this was not available. The BCHR worked on achieving improvement in three main areas – the coordination of IRC partners in protection issues in Dimitrovgrad, building a referral mechanism, and strengthening local capacities.

The programme aimed at providing broad protection to refugees arriving in Serbia from Bulgaria. The project focused specifically on refugees and other groups of migrants who fall under one of the EVI categories. The protection monitoring framework safeguards unaccompanied minors, victims of trafficking, victims of exploitation and ill-treatment and other similar groups.

The BCHR conducted training for all staff dealing with refugees in Dimitrovgrad to align their practices with asylum and refugee law, case handling and referrals, and for them to be able to recognise EVIs, such as GBVs and other vulnerable groups.

Strengthening BCHR Capacities in the Ongoing Refugee Crisis

Donor : Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Belgrade

 Duration : December 2015 – December 2016

The project increased the capacity of the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights in addressing the issue of refugees and asylum seekers in the ongoing refugee crisis. The Belgrade Centre for Human Rights provides free legal aid to asylum seekers and monitors the work of institutions responsible for the asylum system in Serbia. Bearing in mind the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe, and especially in the Western Balkans, with a staggering increase of refugees in Serbia, this project raised the capacities of the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights by increasing the number of staff-lawyers, which is improving the information sharing about the asylum system in Serbia and better legal representation of asylum seekers in administrative and court proceedings. In addition, the project contributed to better and more comprehensive research of state body practices in the protection of refugees in Serbia. The results of the research are leading to a clearer insight into the capacity and readiness of public authorities to act in accordance with the accepted international obligations.

Migrants and Refugees Crisis in Western Balkan Countries

Donor: OXFAM

Duration: August 2016 – October 2016

Within this project the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights has prepared a legal analysis of the Law on Asylum from a gender perspective. The analysis was presented at the round table in the House of Human Rights and Democracy with the participation of local and international CSOs dealing with the rights of women and the protection of refugees. The round table was conducted on the situation and protection needs of vulnerable groups of refugees, primarily women and girls, in the aftermath of the closure of borders in March 2016. On this occasion the regional Macedonia-Serbia Report was also presented. Finally, the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights has provided training for OXFAM staff and partner CSOs on the asylum system in Serbia.