A two-day regional conference on “Exchange of best practices of addressing human rights violations with a special focus on combating discrimination” for National Human Rights Institutions of the Western Balkans and Turkey, was held on 15 -16 February 2018 in Sarajevo.
The conference brought together representatives of National Human Rights Institutions from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, ''the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and Turkey. The participants discussed a broad range of issues with a special focus on the balance between judicial and non-judicial protection of human rights. It was broadly agreed that although National Human Rights Institutions can and should participate in judicial proceedings, especially, in discrimination cases, their major function should be to address human rights violations through mediation. They could effectively interact with the judiciary by producing amicus curiae (intervening as a third party) in sensitive human rights cases. The courts, in their turn, could use the reports by National Human Rights Institutions and equality bodies to establish the facts of a certain discriminatory practice. The conference contributed to the on-going peer-to-peer dialogue between National Human Rights Institutions in the Western Balkans.
It was organised jointly by the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Institution of Human Rights Ombudsman for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The conference is being organised within the framework of the Action implemented in Bosnia and Herzegovina “Strengthening the Human Rights Ombudsman to Fight Discrimination”, which is a part of the joint programme between the European Union and the Council of Europe “Horizontal Facility for Western Balkans and Turkey”. The latter is a three-year programme (May 2016 – May 2019) focusing on three themes: ensuring justice, fighting corruption, economic crime and organised crime, as well as combating discrimination and protecting the rights of vulnerable groups.
*All references to Kosovo, whether the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.