From 2 to 6 March 2019, 49 law students representing 11 universities from five countries of the Western Balkans took part in the Regional Winter Academy of Human Rights in Šabac, Serbia. The School main theme was freedom of expression – a key human rights issue for the whole region.
In an intensive interactive 5-day course, students were introduced to the European Convention on Human Rights and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights on freedom of artistic and political expression, hate speech, freedom of speech online. Special sessions were held on the new challenges to freedom of speech such as „fake news“, and the penomenon of whistle blowers.
The Academy was officially opened by the keynote speech delivered by Ljiljana Mijovic, judge of the European Court of Human Rights elected in respect of Bosnia and Herzegovina (2004-2011).
Presentations were complemented by workshops in which students analysed and presented facts and arguments in respect to actual and hypothetical cases, as well as informal discussion on the human rights challenges in the 21st century introduced by Tobias Flessenkemper, Head of Council of Europe Office in Belgrade. The School ended with a moot court in which the teams practiced arguments simulatintg the hearing at the European Court of Human Rights
The Regional Winter Academy of Human Rights is a result of the Council of Europe effort to expand the reach of its educational programs by also engaging students of law. It was organised within the action "Supporting effective remedies and mutual legal assistance", which is being implemented in Serbia as a part of the joint Council of Europe and the European Union Programme “Horizontal Facility for Western Balkans and Turkey”.