Asylum Protection Center Is an independent, nongovernmental, nonprofit but qualified organization consisting of experts of all profiles and professions connected by the idea of not only providing assistance and protection to asylum seekers, refugees, internally displaced and all other persons forced to migrate, but also of improving the institution of asylum and the rights of asylum seekers and refugees in Serbia, all with the aim of improving the Serbian society in civilized, moral, legal and all other ways.
Asylum Protection Center offers legal, psychological and other assistance to asylum seekers in Serbia and as such it was recognized in the Strategy of the Government of the Republic of Serbia in the field of migration for the period 2009-2014 (The Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia No. 25/2009).
The main objective of the existence of our organization is to provide the necessary assistance to asylum seekers, refugees, displaced persons and all other persons who having been in trouble had to migrate, and to whom due to their sensitivity, vulnerability and state of emergency, help is needed. The goal of our organization is to provide such a help in an extremely professional and truly human manner, fully understanding the state and circumstances in which asylum seekers, refugees, displaced persons and other persons, who had to migrated, are.
The organization was founded by enthusiasts and humane people towards the end of 2007. It was a result of the recognized need to protect a vulnerable category of people, who are particularly vulnerable due to additional foreign element – lack of knowledge of the language, culture,
customs, legal legislative issues and generally the way of functioning of the local government system, and who as such in Serbia can more easily violate the laws/rights than other groups.
Founders, members and supporters of our organization are people of different professions and skills: lawyers, political scientists, sociologists, doctors, scientists, anthropologists and others, connected by the idea of respecting the highest human values of the modern society and offering protection to those who fled their homes owing to persecution, fearing for their own lives and safety, and as such sought refuge in our country and our society.
Our organization has been provided assistance to asylum seekers from the creation of the asylum system in our country till today, dedicatedly and humanly, as the only organization so far which provides legal assistance to asylum seekers, achieving significant results and contributing to the respect of the rights of this category of people in Serbia.
Since 2008, until today, our organization has legally advised over 95% of all asylum seekers and provided psychological support to more than 50% of all of them, filing more that 99% of all submissions to state authorities, institutions, agencies, and all courts of the Republic of Serbia.
In the period from 2009 to 2011, law students of the Refugee Legal Clinic at the Faculty of Law, in Belgrade, performed professional practice in our organization.
From 2011, the Center began with psychological practice in the field of asylum for students of psychology.
Even since 2008, the Center has established contacts and cooperation on some issues with nongovernmental organizations from the region and the European Union, including the Croatian Legal Centre, Montenegrin Legal Center, Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Slovak League for Human Rights, Slovenian Legal Information Centre and Slovenian Peace Institute, as well as the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee. In Serbia, the Center has been collaborating, from the very beginning of its existence, with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Danish Refugee Council, as well as with domestic NGOs such as ATINA, AMITIJA, and others. In the year 2011, our organization helped the implementation of the AMITIJA project of providing social support to asylum seekers in the Asylum Center in Banja Koviljaca by sharing and applying experiential knowledge and providing translation and technical assistance.
The Center also cooperates effectively with the ATINA nongovernmental organization, which provides assistance and protection to women victims of trafficking and gender-based violence.
Our membership in the most famous European organization of NGOs that protects asylum seekers and refugees – ECRE (European Council on Refugees and Exiles) has further strengthened our position in the country and abroad. As a full member, our organization is in a position to share practice and experience with colleagues from all European countries and learn more about the problems and their solutions, which will follow in future phases of development of the asylum system in this country.
Asylum Protection Center provides information and statistics to every domestic,foreign or international organization, embassy and the media that request information from the field of asylum in Serbia by respecting the principles of confidentiality and professional secrecy.
In its work, the Asylum Protection Center has been trying to develop and has already succeeded in developing cooperation with the government agencies and organizations, the Commissariat for Refugees of the RS, RS Border Police, Immigration Department, magistrates and other courts of the RS, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, Asylum and Social Welfare Centers, centers for the reception of juvenile aliens, having in mind the common field of action and the necessity of coordination in exercising the rights of asylum seekers and refugees in Serbia.
The role of the Asylum Protection Center turned out to be significant, bearing in mind the experience and knowledge of the Center gained abroad even before the Serbian asylum system was created, in establishing connection of all the factors who had to play an active role and participate in the health, welfare and juvenile protection in the Serbian asylum system. The role the Centre has played in the asylum system so far, by linking and networking certain state institutions and bodies not only among themselves on the ground but also with the local and international civil societies, by providing legal and psychological care to asylum seekers, as well as by organizing practices and informing the media about the situation in the field of asylum, contributed to the sustainable functioning of the asylum system and creation of the conditions for its development.
As the situation in the field of asylum is constantly changing, and with regard to the growing trend in the number of asylum seekers that multiplied over the years, the need for professional legal and psychological care will be greater in the coming years. The fact that the Law on Asylum guarantees free legal assistance to be provided by an NGO, and that the Government Decree on Migration recognizes the Asylum Protection Center as the organization capable of and in authority of providing legal aid to asylum seekers in Serbia, and bearing in mind the fact that the Asylum Protection Center has been the only organization that provided legal assistance to asylum seekers so far, the Center faces a difficult period of struggle in ensuring respect for the rights of asylum seekers and improving these rights and also in promoting human and moral ideas to help and protect vulnerable people from persecution, as well as the fight against the growing xenophobia and prejudice in our society.
During the years of its involvement, the Center has built a good communication with the media and actively works to combat prejudice and xenophobia in the society, timely and responsibly informing the public about events, novelties, problems, and statistics in the field of asylum in Serbia, but also commenting on the migratory events in the region, Europe and the world, thus bringing the phenomena and problems related to migration issues to the public, which will be of more concern of our society in the near future.
Along with the commitment to provide legal, psychological and other assistance during the asylum procedure, the Center has been actively involved in solving communication problems of refugees with the local community, their social inclusion and eventual integration into the local society. By establishing contacts with local authorities and residents of local communities, and through already started project dealing with organization of workshops, meetings and dialogue between refugees and local population, and active engagement in the field of promoting tolerance, breaking prejudice and fear, communication and dialogue, the Center will in the future try to meet the challenge of comprehensive protection of refugees within the framework of our socio-legal system.