Expanding victims’ rights – media workshop 3

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Niš – From 2012 to May 2019, SOS phone in Serbia received 36,770 calls from 5,589 clients who reported some form of human trafficking and abuse. In their reaction to those calls, 504 victims of human trafficking were identified. Of that number, 34% were children – this is some of the data that Maria Anđelković, CEO of Astra NGO, revealed during the media workshop organized in Niš by the OSCE Mission to Serbia within the “Support to victims and witnesses of crime in Serbia” project.

In this EU-funded project, the OSCE Mission to Serbia is the selected partner organization of the Ministry of Justice, and the media workshops are part of activities aimed at raising awareness of the rights and support to victims and witnesses.

At the third workshop that brought together reporters from the south of Serbia, a number of major issues in the field of rights and support to victims and witnesses was discussed through the interaction of the representatives of the judicial system, NGOs and media experts. Some of the subjects discussed were ways in which Serbia is engaged in strengthening the rights of victims, prevention of violence and secondary victimization, identification of key elements of the process of improvement of victims exercising their rights and identification of key participants, as well as specificities of reporting on victims and witnesses.

“Today more than ever the media is a powerful tool to help victims improve their position, but it can be more of a hindrance than a help” - concluded DR Milica Kolaković Bojović, Research Fellow at the Institute of Criminological and Sociological Faculty of Law, who is also an expert in charge of drafting National Strategy on Crime Victims’ Rights and its Action Plan.

She pointed out that the most significant novelty that the strategy brings is recognizing the fact the victim needs overall systematic support to take care of victim’s interests and rights since the moment when the crime was committed, as well as to secure their protection and adequate assistance.

Media representatives were informed about key weaknesses of media reporting on victims and their rights, as well as on potential ways to improve reporting and contribution that the media can make in the creation of a safer, more humane and more just society.

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