Reporting for Democracy and Disability Rights in Serbia: Research as a Valuable Advocacy Tool

Reporting for Democracy and Disability Rights in Serbia: Research as a Valuable Advocacy Tool

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How can research and reporting by non-government organisations improve democracy and disability rights? In Serbia, the Mental Disability Rights Initiative (MDRI-S) undertook research that revealed over 20,000 people having their legal capacity denied or restricted. This figure was unknown to the government at the time. Now, new research by MDRI-S has painted a vivid picture of legal capacity law and policy in Serbia. The report presents a clear vision for change. As Biljana Janjic, of MDRI-S writes, this kind of research is crucial to transforming law and policy to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Research and publishing has been an important and integral part of MDRI-S work and it is used as advocacy and awareness-raising tool for improving legislation and practice but also for strengthening the capacities of persons with disabilities and their families for full protection and realization of their rights. So far, the organization published 26 different research and monitoring reports, studies, guidelines, collection of articles and other types of publications both in Serbian and English language. MDRI-S staff also co-authored and edited numerous studies and analysis with other publishers.

The MDRI-S team

The MDRI-S team

The country report published in 2014 as part of the PERSON project is an important revision of Serbian legislation in regard to guardianship system and legal capacity. This latest publication relies on and updates previously published studies, such as My right to make decisions, Practicing universality of rights, Legal capacity and community living: protection of rights of persons with disabilities, and other materials.

MDRI-S prepared the country report in both Serbian and the English language and they give the overview of the national legislation in this area, summary of the available research data and the practice. In addition, the Serbian version – Deprivation of legal capacity: legislation and practice in the Republic of Serbia – authored and edited by Kosana Beker also presents international standards enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and relevant practice of the European Court for Human Rights.

The recent publication emphasizes the urgent need for legislative reform of guardianship system in Serbia, while simultaneously working with the courts to abolish the practice of full deprivation of legal capacity, and development of alternative measures and support systems in accordance with the principles of human rights and equality of persons with disabilities with others. The publication has been distributed to Serbian judges, lawyers, experts, and NGOs and it is a valuable asset to practitioners and advocates alike.

MDRI-S publications in English language can be found at http://www.mdri-s.org/publication-english/

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This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of PERSON (Partnership to Ensure Reforms of Supports in Other Nations) and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.