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The first HELP training-of-trainers held for legal professionals in civil society organisations in Serbia

The first training of trainers (ToT) on the HELP methodology with a focus on the HELP course Admissibility criteria for applications submitted to the European Court of Human Rights was organized online from June 24th to 26th for legal professionals in civil society organizations in Serbia.

The event was organized in collaboration with the Government Office for Cooperation with the Civil Society Organization of Serbia and brought together 16 representatives from nine civil society organizations working to promote and protect human rights and the rule of law.

In his opening remarks, Zarko Stepanovic, Director of the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society of the Government of Serbia, thanked the Council of Europe for the excellent cooperation established during the ToT and expressed his satisfaction with the continuation of the actions under various actions of the Horizontal Facility .

Eva Pastrana, head of the HELP department, emphasized that during the COVID-19 crisis the number of participants in the HELP courses as well as the demands of the national training institutions for a stronger national adaptation of the HELP courses increased significantly. For months, the HELP platform was an important instrument with which human rights training for the judiciary could continue even during this sanitary crisis.

Tobias Flessenkemper, head of the Council of Europe office in Belgrade, reminded the participants of the 70th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights. The convention system, which was put in place after World War II at a difficult and difficult moment for Europe, remains of enormous importance during another unprecedented crisis that is transforming public, professional and personal spaces and continues to have profound effects on the lives of people and people would European continent in the future.

Tatiana Termacic, Head of the Department for Coordination and International Cooperation, pointed out before the European Court of Human Rights the crucial role that civil society organizations (CSOs) play in the implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights at national level. and then after the execution process before the Committee of Ministers. She added that civil society organizations help protect and promote human rights, but can themselves become victims of human rights violations. For this reason, the Council of Europe has put in place mechanisms to protect civil society organizations, and in particular human rights defenders.

The ToT had two goals: to introduce lawyers to the HELP methodology and to expand the scope of the HELP online courses to include informal human rights education programs run by civil society organizations, and the capacity of civil society organizations in strategic litigation before national courts and authorities to raise European Court of Human Rights (European Court of Justice).

In a three-day intensive course, the participants were introduced to the HELP methodology, the role of the HELP tutors and the HELP e-learning tools. The presentations by two lawyers from the European Court of Justice were complemented by dynamic discussions that enabled participants to learn more about admissibility criteria in applications submitted to the European Court of Human Rights, in particular incompatibility, non-exhaustion of domestic remedies, 6-month rule and obviously unfounded applications .

The ToT was created as part of the “Strengthening effective legal remedies against human rights violations in Serbia” and “AID in the Western Balkans“, Implemented under the joint program of the European Union and the Council of Europe “Western Balkans and Turkey Horizontal Facility 2019-2020”.

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