Commissioner's Office Protecting Equality in Novi Pazar

20 March 2014, Novi Pazar

The first Office of the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality outside of Belgrade opened today in Novi Pazar, with financial support of the European Union and the Government of Switzerland through the European Partnership with Municipalities Programme EU PROGRES.

With the opening of the Novi Pazar branch, located within the Town Stadium (NN Kosančićeva Street), the people from the area have a much easier access to the government institution, the main purpose of which is to eliminate all forms and cases of discrimination. To establish the office, Novi Pazar Town provided their premises, which were through EU PROGRES, supported with 6,000 EUR for renovation and equipment in the form of computers and furniture.

“Regional Office of the Commissioner in Novi Pazar will be the place where men and women from the area will be able to file complaints if they feel discriminated against on any grounds. If they cannot draft a complaint on their own, the employees in the office will assist them in doing so. It is important to establish offices throughout Serbia, which will help prevention and be accessible to all citizens”, Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, Nevena Petrušić, said.

“Novi Pazar has been providing support to all vulnerable groups, because all citizens deserve equal rights. And now we also have a national institution that will contribute to that”, Mayor of Novi Pazar, Meho Mahmutović, said.

“This is a good example of cooperation between a government institution, City of Novi Pazar and donors – European Union and Government of Switzerland – in promoting the protection of rights of all Serbian citizens”, EU PROGRES Programme Manager, Graeme Tyndall, said.

“By supporting the establishment of this Office, we wish to provide women with disabilities and from rural areas easier access to their rights”, Asya Varbanova, Head of UN WOMEN Office in Serbia said.

After the opening ceremony, a round table followed on the topic “Commissioner for the Protection of Equality and Discrimination against Women”, organised by the Office of the Commissioner and UN WOMEN. After this, the citizens were able to state their complaints related to discrimination. During this event, the mandate and operational procedure of the Commissioner was presented to local institutions and organisations that are authorised to protect and react in case of the violation of right to equality. The position of women in Serbia was also discussed at the meeting, as well as the way in which they can access their rights, with special emphasis on the role of the Commissioner in this process.

During the two-day visit to Novi Pazar, the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, Nevena Petrušić, will meet with the representatives of NGOs and women from rural areas tomorrow, to discuss their needs, problems and ways to receive assistance.