Describe the main features of the policy/measure:
The measure is carried out by preparing, adopting, and implementing different laws and strategy documents. - in 2018, amendments were made to the Law on National Councils of National Minorities (Official Gazette of the RS, issue 47/2018), the Law on the Protection of Rights and Freedoms of National Minorities (Official Gazette of the RS, issue 47/2018), and the Law on the Official Use of Languages and Scripts (Official Gazette of the RS, issues 47/2018 and 48/2018), with the goal of strengthening the legislative and institutional framework of the National Councils of National Minorities. - in June 2017, the Republic of Serbia adopted the Action Plan for Implementing the Strategy for the Social Inclusion of Roma People in the Republic of Serbia 2016-2025, for the period 2017-2018 . In the process of drafting the Action Plan, a public hearing on the Strategy’s priority measures was held, with members of the Roma community, relevant institutions, and civil society organizations in attendance. Members of the Roma community had previously participated in defining strategic goals and measures as members of the expert team during the drafting of the Strategy. The Action Plan defined the Operative Goal 8: Improving the Roma population’s cultural standard, their economic empowerment, and maintaining their ethno-cultural identity, with one of the expected outcomes being the adoption of local self-governments’ recommendations on founding Roma cultural centers—Roma cultural centers were established in 30 local self-government units. A measure was defined in accordance with the goal: Establishing Roma cultural centers and adoption of programs for the development of Roma settlements, which entails the establishment of Roma cultural centers and/or advancing the capacities of existing center in larger, sustainable settlements or local self-government units with at least 300 Roma people living there. - in 2018, the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs established the Working Group for Drafting the Proposal of the Strategy for the Prevention of Discrimination, which included representatives from the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, the minister without portfolio in charge of demography and population politics, the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Culture and Information, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, Ministry of Defense, Office for Human and Minority Rights, Office for Cooperation with Civil Society, and the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia. The Working Group also included civil sector representatives from the Commission of Jurists for Human Rights, the National Organization for People with Disability, and the Gay-Straight Alliance. The UN Human Rights Team/OHCHR and the Office for Human and National Minority Rights collaborated on the creating of the Analysis of the Strategy’s Application, and in 2018 a team of experts was formed, which developed the Starting points. - In 2020, the Strategy for the Development of the Public Information System in the Republic of Serbia for the period 2020-2025 was adopted (Official Gazette of the RS, issue 11/2020), one of its specific goals (4) being: High-quality, plural, and diverse media content that meets the needs of various social groups in terms of informing. Measure 4.1., the outcome, is defined as improving the objectivity and diversity of media sources and content on national minority languages. Indicators at the level of measure include: changes in regulations that provide legislative guarantees of editorial independence; increase in the number of professionals working in the media from the ranks of national minorities, sorted by sex; the number of media content of public interest in national minority languages; the number of media content that preserve the identity of national minorities, in their language; the number of hours of produced and broadcast media content in national minority languages; national minority’s satisfaction and the quality of informing in their language (research). The measure entails the following activities: 1) providing editorial independence protections for broadcasters formed by national councils of national minorities, including a system to preserve editorial policy from founders' influence and sanctions for activities that violate these requirements; 2) establishing mechanisms to prevent members of national councils of national minorities from becoming members of board of directors of the broadcasting house they had founded; 3) establishing mechanisms that oblige boards of directors members of houses founded by national councils of national minorities to fully consider the editorial staff’s viewpoint regarding the selection and dismissal of editor-in-chiefs ; 4) establishing specific criteria for the selection of board of directors members at a broadcasting house created by national councils of national minorities, ensuring that they are media experts with evident results in their work or relevant scholarly works in the field of media, such as the following: media workers, economists with experience in working with or in the media, telecommunications engineers with experience in technology offering media services, media lawyers, and the similar, without discrimination on any grounds. The same criteria should apply to the director, with the additional condition that they should have experience in media management and a track record of accomplishments; 5) ensuring a stable, transparent, and non-discriminatory source of income, as well as mechanisms for the financial sustainability of broadcasting houses founded by national councils of national minorities, equally for all publishers in the Republic of Serbia; 6) encouraging the production and distribution of program contents in national minority languages through incentives for houses that broadcast content in a national minority language, but were not founded or co-founded by national councils of national minorities, to promote the pluralism of informative media content in national minority languages; 7) defining clear criteria for funding during calls for co-financing and procedures for the evaluation of media projects that relate to the production and distribution of media content in national minority languages; 8) ensuring that national councils of national minorities provide non-binding advice to public authorities prior to the publication of calls for project co-financing in national minority languages on the type of media content that a particular national minority requires to improve the quality of information in their language; 9) providing a suitable amount of public-interest media content in national minority languages, as well as media content that protects national minorities' national identity, and especially: implementing activities from Measure 3.3. point 15: Fulfilling the public broadcasting mission to inform in the minority languages at the national level, maintaining and improving the quality of media contents in national minority language on public broadcasting services, recognizing the production of media content that promote interculturality as a special segment of public interest, introducing stimulating measures for the founding, development, and functioning of civil society media in national minority languages, introducing stimulating media to support multilingual media; 10) increasing the number of professionals that work in the media in national minority languages, especially through: creating a simulative environment that will attract professionals to work in the media in national minority languages, establishing new and expanding existing educational programs for educating people to work in the media in national minority languages, increasing the number of government-funded places for students from national minorities at faculties (departments) that train persons to work in national minority languages in the media, supporting projects that continuously improve the capacities of journalists and media workers employed in the media that create content in national minority languages, taking into account the equal participation of women and men; 11) ensuring that the right of the smallest national minorities to be informed, especially those who do not have their representative media, is fully realized.
What are the results achieved so far through the implementation of the policy/measure?:
- According to legislation, the National Councils of National Minorities (NCNM) have the power to establish cultural institutions in order to preserve, advance and develop the cultural uniqueness and national identity of national minorities, and have the rights and obligations of founders. National Councils have the power to establish which cultural goods, events, and institutions are of special significance for the preservation, improvement, and development of the uniqueness and national identity of national minorities, as well as to participate in their management by naming one member of the board of directors in these institutions, expressing their opinion on suggested members of the board of directors and during the selection of the institution’s director. National councils have the authority to define the strategy for the development of national minorities’ culture, to begin the process for defining the status of protected cultural properties of significance for a national minority, etc. The NCNM decide on the traditional names of local self-government units (LSGU), settlements, and other geographic names in the national minority language (if the national minority language is in official use in the area of the LSGU or settlement); propose highlighting the names of the LSGU, settlements, and other geographic names in the national minority language; propose establishing the language and national minority script as an official language and script in the LSGU; propose changes in names of streets, squares, and parts of settlements and institutions that are defined as having special significance for the national minority; express opinions in the process of establishing the names of streets, squares, and other settlements (if the national minority language is in official use in the area of LSGU). - In the process of creating the Action Plan for the Strategy for the Social Inclusion of Roma People in the Republic of Serbia for 2016-2025, a public hearing on the Strategy’s priority measures was held, with representatives from Roma communities, relevant institutions, and civil society organizations in attendance. In May 2019, a Roma cultural center was opened in Niš, the first Roma cultural institution in Serbia, founded by the National Council of the Roma National Minority with the support of the City of Niš and donors. - The creation of the new Strategy for Preventing and Protecting from Discrimination was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2021, the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue founded a Special Working Group for Drafting the Proposal of the Strategy for Preventing and Protecting from Discrimination for 2021-2030, which completed the Strategy proposal. - The Strategy for Developing a Public Information System in the Republic of Serbia for 2020-2025, states that there are various models for informing in national minority languages in the Republic of Serbia, including: public broadcasting service programs, TV shows, private media articles, including civil society media, program contents of houses founded by national councils, as well as internet use, access to homeland media, etc. However, the Strategy states that although the adoption of media laws has strengthened the legislative framework relating to informing national minority members, some problems of a normative and practical nature have been noted, indicating a lack of a comprehensive and coherent approach to providing information in national minority languages. National Councils of National Minorities, as bodies of selected national minority representatives through which national minority members achieve their collective rights, have great authority in achieving public interest in terms of public informing. Although they are publically funded, these bodies have authority to found broadcasting houses, propose members of the REM Council, express opinions on candidates for editor-in-chief of national minority languages programs in public broadcasting houses, as well as express nonbinding opinions on projects submitted to calls that aim to improve the quality of informing national minority members. The Strategy further points out that despite the national councils’ importance in the field of informing, their activities are only one way of achieving national minority members’ public interest to be informed in their own language, and the minority media scene should not be equated only with their activities. With regard to the role of national councils, there is some concern about their impact on media pluralism and editorial independence. Given that the broadcasting houses, founded by the NCNMs, are supported with public funds, it is necessary to organize their operations in accordance with the public interest. Furthermore, according to Article 16 of the Law on Public Information and Media, the act on founding institutions, companies, or foundations by National Councils, defines how management organs are selected and appointed; if the institution, company or foundation is a broadcasting house, then the act defines the selection and appointment of the house’s editor-in-chief, in a way that guarantees its editorial independence. National councils are, therefore, required to select the board of directors of broadcasting houses, appoint directors and editors-in-chief in a way that promotes the editorial independence of the media. Moreover, the Strategy highlights the major problem of securing financial sustainability of the house that produces content in national minority languages, as well as insufficient fulfilment of the public broadcaster’s duty to inform in national minority languages.
Partner(s) engaged in the implementation of the measure:
|Name of partner|
Ministry of Culture and Information, Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, and other relevant ministries, Office for Human and Minority Rights, Office for Cooperation with Civil Society, Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit
Has the implementation of the policy/measure been evaluated?:
If yes, what are the main conclusions/recommendations?:
The Protector of Citizens’ special report with recommendations—Analysis of National Councils of National Minorities’ Public Power Exercising—for 2014-2018: The Protector of Citizens conducted a research in 2019 with the help of the OSCE Mission in order to make recommendations and understand the needs and possibilities for improving the work of National Councils based on the gathered data, to help the advancing of national minority members' rights and comprehend how the NCNM exercise their lawfully granted power. The research findings show that organs that launch calls that aim to protect, foster, and develop national minority culture, both traditional and contemporary, are fulfilling their lawful obligation and consulting with the NCNM. During the reporting period (2014-2018), three councils founded cultural institutions of special significance for the communities they represent, the Bosniak, Bunjevci, and Vlach national minorities. Seven council, representing Bulgarian, Greek, German, Ukrainian, Croatian, Montenegrin national minorities, and the Federation of Jewish Communities, stated that they had not established cultural institutions of special significance for the minorities they represent. In an earlier period, seven councils, representing Albanian, Bosniak , Hungarian, Macedonian, Rusyns, Slovak, and Czech national minorities, established cultural institutions of great significance. Based on the data, it was concluded that the regulation pertaining to establishing institutions of great cultural significance was somewhat applied. According to the report, councils that used the possibility of adopting strategies in domains where they exercise power, such as culture, are rare. The national councils of the Albanian, Vlach, Hungarian, Macedonia, Slovenian, Croatian, and Ukrainian national minorities stated that they had approved a special strategy for the development of national minority culture for 2014-2018. The national councils of Bulgarian, Greek, German, Slovak, Montenegrin and Czech national minorities and the Federation of Jewish Communities stated that they did not adopt strategies for culture during the reporting period. The national council of the Bosniak national minority stated that it created a comprehensive strategy for all four spheres in 2012, and that four years later the council adopted a strategic work plan for the period 2016-2020, with detailed activities for each sphere. Similarly, the national council of the Rusyn national minority responded that it had adopted a comprehensive National Strategy for Rusyns for the period until 2020. The report highlights that the councils frequently overlook the importance of defining indicators of strategy implementation success and activity plans that would highlight the effectiveness of the selected strategy’s elements. Data obtained from the NCNM and other authorities, which the Protector of Citizens had previously gathered and use to compile a report with recommendations, speak of many media featuring programs in national minority languages. Four councils (of the Albanian, Bulgarian, Bunjevci, and Hungarian national minorities) claim to have founded institutions aiming to fulfil the right to inform in national minority languages, but none of them were founded in 2014-2018. Six national councils (of Albanian, Bunjevci, Hungarian, Macedonian, Slovenian, and Ukrainian national minorities) claim to have adopted a strategy for developing an information system in the national minority language for 2014-2018. Not a single national council was asked for an opinion on the report of the Program Council of Public Broadcasters related to program contents in national minority languages. In November 2018, two new national councils were formed: Russian and Polish. The national council of the Polish national minority prioritizes the inclusion of the Polish language with elements of national culture in the educational system of the Republic of Serbia, and mentions organizing various cultural events that promote Polish culture in the country and abroad. According to the Protector of Citizens, the NCNM should create dual language websites with regularly updated information of importance for national minority members, involve their community more in the planning of their activities, dedicate more of their activities to youth in the community and provide more content for them, incorporate a gender perspective into their planned activities, include strategic planning, create a database on institutions of great significance for national minority culture (including local cultural institutions with programs that feature elements related to the national minority culture), and frequently update information and submit them to their supervising ministry, etc. The Protector made the following recommendations to state authorities: the Ministry of Public Authority and Local Self-Government, Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, Ministry of Culture and Information, and Office for Human and Minority Rights, should keep a continuous record of the councils' operations in accordance with their jurisdiction and offer support in the event of observed shortcomings; the authorities should organize additional financial reporting and budgeting training, and improve the instruments for gathering information on community needs, using the data to define activities and develop mechanisms for monitoring and assessing the implemented activities, etc