The Commissioner for the Protection of Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection issued a decision (number 071-01-4864 / 2019-03 of 2 April 2021) confirming that the Center for the Protection of Infants, Children and Youth rejected unduly the request of the Autonomous Women's Center to access data on the work of the national SOS hotline for support of women with the experience of violence, i.e., that the request of the AWC is in accordance with Art. 5, Art. 8, para. 1 and 2, as well as Art. 15. Nevertheless, the Center for the Protection of Infants, Children and Youth rejected the new request of the AWC - with meaningless explanations
The Autonomous Women's Center requested new data on the work of the national SOS hotline for support of women with the experience of violence for the period from 1st Jan 2021 to 30th April 2021 (broken down by months), which concern the total number of received calls, the number of persons who called (sorted by gender, minors/of legal age, place / municipality, type of violence, type of relationship between victim and perpetrator), the number of referrals to competent bodies and organizations (listed by type of measures / services, i.e., types of bodies and organizations).
The Center for the Protection of Infants, Children and Youth refused to provide access to information of public importance (No. 2340/1, dated 14 May 2021) and stated in their response that it informed the AWC that “we regularly send the requested data to the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Issues”, as well as that the requested data were going to be “published and publicly available as soon as possible” on the website of this institution, and the AWC will be able to access them after publication.
The AWC considers that the refusal to provide the requested information is not in accordance with Art. 10, Art. 13 and Art. 14, and that there was no basis for rejecting the request, especially since at the time of sending the request the Center had the requested information (which they stated themselves). This continues this public institution’s practice of denying to provide information and thus violating the right to access information of public importance on the services it provides - and which is paid for by the citizens of the Republic of Serbia.
The Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs, also acting only after the decision of the Commissioner for the Protection of Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection, submitted a response to the AWC (in letter no. 07-00-00744 / 2019-15, dated 12th April 2021) to the questions related to the financing of the national SOS hotline (sent on March 7th 2019 and March 24th 2019):
- RS Budget Law for 2021, funds under Section 30, Program 0902, program activity 0005 - Performing the activities of social protection institutions (which finances all social protection institutions);
- in accordance with the Financial Plan of the Center for the Protection of Infants, Children and Youth, funds in the amount of 15,600,000.00 dinars were provided from the appropriation 423000, source 01, program 0902, function 070,
- funds for payment of business premises in the amount of 1,300,000.00 dinars, from appropriation 421000, source 01, program 0902, project 0005, function 070,
- funds for software system maintenance in the amount of 40,000.00 dinars from source 01, project 0005, function 070.
Also, with the memorandum signed between the said Ministry, the City of Belgrade and "Telecom Serbia", the City of Belgrade undertook to provide premises (163 m2, offices in public ownership, by the Mayor's decision given in December 2018, for use over a period of 10 years), fixed assets and other necessary office materials, and "Telecom" enables free use of the commercial service "Free Telephone".
The Ministry states that this service exists "owing to coping and exceptional efforts of the said institution", and that the drafting of the Law on Social Protection will provide the legal basis for the establishment of the National Telephone Line - SOS hotline for women with the experience of violence. However, the Ministry confirms with this document that the said service is financed in an illegal manner (from the national budget and outside the public call / competition that would be open to all providers of the same service).
This is also the answer to the question why six specialized women's organizations, licensed providers of the National SOS Telephone (before the Center for the Protection of Infants, Children and Youth managed to license theirs - the seventh national SOS telephone in three days, 25th -28th Dec 2018) fail to secure funding for their services, in spite of “coping and exceptional efforts”.Finally, the Ministry replied that “they have no knowledge, nor have they been able to obtain any information on the reasons why the Autonomous Women's Center did not receive a decision regarding the application for the accreditation of the training Instruction program for consultative work on the SOS hotline for women with the experience of violence, and bearing in mind that in the meantime there have been personnel changes due to the formation of the new Government of the Republic of Serbia”.
You can see the response of the Center for the Protection of Infants, Children and Youth to the AWC's request HERE.
See the response of the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans' Affairs and Social Affairs to the request of the HERE.