Effectiveness of NHRIs in the Western Balkan countries – general scores

The general scores per institution per country are within the range from the highest 5.49 (Equality Body – Serbia) to lowest 2.95 (Commission for Protection against Discrimination – MKD).

People’s Advocate4.68The Institution of Human Rights Ombudsman of BiH4.29 (NHRI 4.33; EB 5.04; FAI 3.49)  Ombudsperson Institution5.33 (NHRI 5.80;  EB 5.59;  FAI 4.59)Ombudsperson4.71Ombudsperson5.24 (NHRI 5.20; EB 5.28)Protector of Citizens4.99
Commissioner for Protection against Discrimination5.08Personal Data Protection Agency4.18National Agency for Protection of Personal Data3.32Commission for Protection against Discrimination2.95Agency for Personal Data Protection and Free Access to Information4.25 (SADP 4.22; FAI 4.28)Commissioner for Protection of Equality5.49
Information and Data Protection Commissioner4.60 (SADP 4.54; FAI 4.66)    Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information3.71  Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection
4.38 (SADP 4.42; FAI 4.34)
      Data Protection Directorate5.25    
Table 1: General scores per institution – Min: 0; Max: 8 [АМ1]

Most of the bodies across the countries (six out of eight) have scored within the range 4.18-5.49, only two falling below 4.00 and 3.00 points. The average score of all institutions in the region is 4.54, illustrating that they have scored slightly above the average of scores (4.00).

The average score per country ranges from 4.95 in Serbia to 4.16 in North Macedonia. The lower score for MKD is due to the weak legislative framework and inactivity of the Commission for Protection against Discrimination, as well as lack of effectiveness of the Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information, which was practically non-operational in 2018.

The scores for multi-mandate bodies per each mandate are very similar, almost identical in Serbia, Montenegro and Albania (the cases of the Ombudsperson and the Agency for Personal Data Protection and Free Access to Information in MNE and the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection in Serbia, the Information and Data Commissioner in Albania). However, the Kosovan Ombudsperson Institution demonstrates a great difference in the performance of its mandates – 1.36 and a lower score for access to public information than for the ombudsperson mandate, which is relatively high. Moreover, the allocation of mandates to separate bodies – such as the case of North Macedonia does not seem to lead to more effective institutions performing those mandates. On the contrary, the difference in effectiveness per mandate in North Macedonia is high (1.76). The difference per mandate is only higher in Kosovo (2.07 points), where the Ombudsperson has significantly higher scores than the National Agency for the Protection of Personal Data. Differences between mandates can be considered medium in Serbia (1.11) Montenegro (0.99) and Albania (0.79). The institutions of Ombudsperson and SADP in Bosnia and Herzegovina scored almost evenly, with a negligible difference of 0.11 points.

The results indicate that the effectiveness of the institutions does not correlate to the years of existence of the institution. This (non)correlation leads to the conclusion that other factors, rather than the years of existence, are prevailing for the effectiveness of the institution.

Presented by rank, the scores of institutions are as follows:

Institution/countryGeneral score
min: 0; max: 8;
Commissioner for Protection of Equality – SRB5.49
Ombudsperson Institution – KOS5.33
Data Protection Agency – MKD5.25
Ombudsperson – MNE5.24
Commissioner for Protection Against Discrimination – ALB5.08
Protector of Citizens – SRB4.99
Ombudsperson – MKD4.71
People’s Advocate – ALB4.68
Information and Data Protection Commissioner – ALB4.60
Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection – SRB4.38
The Institution of Human Rights of Ombudsman of BiH4.29
Agency for Personal Data Protection and Free Access to Information - MNE4.25
Personal Data Protection Agency – BiH4.18
Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information- MKD3.71
National Agency for the Protection of Personal Data – KOS3.32
Commission for Protection against Discrimination – MKD2.95
Table 2: Ranking of institutions by score

The ranking demonstrates the highest convergence in scores of the Ombudsperson, ranging from 5.39 in Kosovo to 4.29 in Bosnia and Herzegovina (difference of 1.11 points). In contrast, the highest variances are observed in the effectiveness of the equality body – highest in Serbia (5.49) and lowest in North Macedonia (2.95 points) – 2.53 points. The divergence is also high (1.93) in the bodies for free access to public information and data protection – between the highest score of 5.25 for the Data Protection Agency in North Macedonia and the 3.32 points scored by the National Agency for Protection of Personal Data of Kosovo.  

As to the lowest-ranked institution – the Commission for Protection against Discrimination in North Macedonia, it should be noted that the new 2019 anti-discrimination law brought many improvements to the legal framework, but since this research is a snapshot of 2018, these are not taken into regard.1

Effectiveness per domain

We have presented here the comparative findings for all the mandates of the NHRIs for the six countries in each domain.

The table below shows the average scores per domain.

Min: 0; Max: 2
(1) Independence and ability to work without pressure1.33
(2) Availability of resources and capacities1.04
(3) Information, accessibility and cooperation with other relevant actors1.01
(4) Mandate and powers1.22
Table 3: Average scores per domain

It is evident that the average scores are higher for independence and ability to work without pressure, as well as mandate and powers. It might be partly due to the more structural character of the indicators under these domains, as more indicators in these domains are defined based on legal provisions, and not actual compliance/performance.

At the beginning of each section, the scores per mandate per country are presented. In the discussion that follows, the scores and findings for each indicator are elaborated. At the end of each section, the main conclusions are extrapolated. 

Domain 1. Independence and ability to work without pressures

The average value per institution for this domain is 1.33.

The Ombudspersons scored highest in this domain: 1.20 to 1.70. The Kosovo Ombudsperson scored highest at 1.70 and the Albanian Ombudsperson – lowest at 1.20. The equality bodies cut between 1.00 and 1.70. The data protection supervisory authorities scored between 0.89 and 1.33, whereas the institutions for free access to information between 1.22 and 1.67. The relatively high scores in this domain are because many of the indicators set for this domain are based on legal provisions, which, in fact, are based on relevant international standards.   

The NHRIs in the six countries have an independent statutory basis, which granted them all the highest score on this indicator (2), except for the three data protection authorities in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo which scored 1. The ombudspersons in all the countries are based on the constitutions, while all other NHRIs are established by Law. The data protection authorities in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, while established under law, do not contain all provisions required in the GDPR, thus scoring 1.

The situation is somewhat different concerning the appointment process. Only in Montenegro, the Ombudsperson satisfies the highest standard – appointment “by the Legislature after public nomination, in participatory and transparent procedure”. The Montenegrin practice established since the Law on 2014, which foresees the participation of civil society, requires parliamentary approval and a public nomination by the President, so from the herein analysed institutions it can be emphasised as a best practice in the region. In all other countries, when the appointment procedure for the ombudspersons and the equality bodies comes to the responsible committee in the parliament, it is very much closed and non-transparent, so they scored 1. The SADP and FAI bodies all scored generally high (2), except for the Kosovan SADP and the Albanian SADP and FAI which scored zero (0) due to lack of a transparent procedure and overly decisive role of the governments in the appointment. The SADP and FAI bodies are generally appointed by an independent body (parliament), through a transparent procedure, but the standards are not explicitly set as requiring a “participatory” approach.  

On clear criteria for membership, all Ombudspersons scored highest (2), except for Serbia. The highest score is due to the law requiring specific human rights expertise. In contrast, the Serbian law resorts to a more general provision of experience on legal affairs “within the competence of the PC” and consequently scored medium (1) in this indicator. Specific human rights expertise is required for all equality bodies in all of the countries, resulting in high scores (2). North Macedonia scored only 1 since the provision is watered down by the ‘or social sciences’ education part,2 which made the criteria porous to unqualified persons.3 The data protection supervisory authorities in all countries received a medium score (1), as none of the relevant laws requires a more specialised experience in data protection. The Macedonian Commission for Free Access to Public Information is the only FAI body that scored high (2) since the legal requirements are explicit as to the relevant experience in freedom of expression or public information.

The term of office for the Ombudsperson in North Macedonia (8 years) exceeds the recommendation by GAHNRI (5-7 years), unlike all five other countries, which scored 2 as their ombudsperson have mandates of 6 and 5 years, respectively. All the other NHRIs are also within the range for the highest score on this indicator and have mandates of either 5 and 6 years. For all the institutions, the term of office may be renewed once, which is also in accordance with the highest standards. 

On avoidance of conflict of interest, the ombudspersons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia received the highest score, as they have specific provisions regulating the avoiding of conflict of interest. All other institutions scored medium (1), due to the vague legal requirements. The Bosnia and Herzegovinian SADP scored the lowest score (0) since the law provides no provision regarding conflict of interest. Specific legal guarantees for extending the conflict of interest provision beyond the term of office for SADP and the FAI are provided for FAI in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, whereas for the other institutions, such guarantees are lacking. 

Related to immunities, only the Kosovan Ombudsperson and the Albanian EB scored the highest (2) since they have both functional immunity and protection against threat and coercion. All other institutions of ombudspersons and EBs (for which the international standard for immunity has been established) scored medium (1) since they lack protection against threat and coercion in the relevant laws.

Regarding the criterion ‘no instruction from government’, the ombudspersons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia, the EB in Albania and the SADP in Serbia received the highest score attainable (2) because of explicit provisions on the prohibition of interference, albeit not explicitly quoting “the Government”, but rather stating that “no one has the right to influence his/her work…”4 All other institutions got a medium score (1), as the laws contain only general legal provisions on independence.

All institutions, except for the Montenegrin and the Kosovan ombudsperson and the Albanian EB and FAI received a medium score on removal from office, sincethe legal provisions are not assessed as clear enough to avoid arbitrariness in removal. In practice, the national authorities do not resort to removal, but rather to direct or indirect pressure, as shown by the scores on the indicator submission/agreement to pressure. The ombudspersons in all countries except Albania, the EBs in all countries except North Macedonia, the SADP in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and North Macedonia and the FAI in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo showed no submission/agreement to pressure in 20185. The Ombudsperson of Albania, the EB and the FAI institution in North Macedonia, as well as the SPDP-FAI in Montenegro and Serbia, were all subject to pressure in 2018, thus leading to the medium score for the Albanian Ombudsperson and the Montenegrin SADP-FAI (1) and lowest scores (0) for the other institutions. All cases deserve specific attention and further analysis. In Albania, the score was brought down by prolonged appointment procedures, which can be considered as a form of pressure.6 In Montenegro, the case referred to rejection of 90 requests for free access to information on finances of political parties submitted by NGO MANS, which occurred two days after the Special prosecutor for anti-corruption initiated an investigation on donations to the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS). The NGO maintained that free access to information had been politicised, given the upcoming local elections (May 2018).7 In the case of the equality body in North Macedonia, the most contested case was the Opinion the CPAD adopted in the case of the runaway former Prime Minister – Nikola Gruevski. The opinion, which was later used as one of the critical proofs by Gruevski in his asylum claim in Hungary, the CPAD found that Gruevski was subjected to direct discrimination on the grounds of personal and social status in the area of justice and administration.8 In the case of the FAI in North Macedonia, the lack of appointment of commissioners practically resulted in blocking the functioning of the institution for more than six months during 2018. By refusing to cooperate, the competent or controlled authorities often made it difficult or even impossible for the SADP – FAI in Serbia to take legal action, or the measures taken had no effect.9  

Finally, on the indicator of public opinion on independence, none of the institutions managed to reach 50%, which was the set minimum, so all scored 0. The Montenegrin Ombudsperson is the closest to this minimum, as 48% of the respondents consider the institution to be independent, whereas in the other countries the situation is as follows: Albania – 33%, Bosnia and Herzegovina – 38%, Kosovo – 47%, North Macedonia – 33%, and Serbia – 31%.10 The Balkan Barometer of the Regional Cooperation Council survey is the only public opinion poll available for the six countries, measuring public opinion on independence and trust in the Ombudspersons. No public opinion polls measuring opinion on independence or trust in the other NHRIs in the region are publicly available. It seems the NHRIs themselves have not taken any actions to measure the attitudes of citizens towards them.

While the scores show little variance, it can be observed that this small variance refers to the score on the domain in general, not to all or majority of the indicators, as differences and nuances in separate criteria and for specific institutions are evident. This is mainly observed with the indicators on critical issues regarding independence – clear criteria for membership, the appointment process, no instruction from the government, removal from office, avoidance of conflict of interest. In all these indicators, which are based on legal provisions, there are significant differences between countries and between bodies. Only specific provisions on individual bodies can be extrapolated as best practices, but this cannot be generalised for any of the countries, or type of bodies. Such a situation points out to a lack of a systematic approach towards the NHRIs in the region.  

The comparative analysis leads to the conclusion that the statutory framework in the Western Balkan countries has established the basis for independence, which is above the minimum. However, key challenges still pertain in the appointment process and the appointment criteria, leaving room for arbitrariness and influence. Challenges also remain regarding specific safeguard mechanisms for independence – such as the absence of protection from threat or coercion, lack of explicit ban on instruction from the government, or not sufficiently precise definition of conflict of interests. 

The practice shows that authorities would rather resort to explicit or implicit pressure than to removal, thus avoiding the international criticism of direct interference in the independence of the NHRIs, but still effectively and essentially harming independence. This can be illustrated by the cases of the Serbian Protector of Citizens, who resigned following constant pressures in 2017 and the institutions’ persisting uncertainty as regards financial resources11, blockage of the institution by non-appointment of members as in the case of the Macedonian FAI12, etc. 

Finally, little attention is paid to the legitimacy of the NHRIs. The public opinion on the independence of the ombudspersons has still not reached 50% in any of the countries, while polls are lacking for all other NHRIs. However, it should be noted that slightly below half of the Montenegrin and Kosovan respondents consider their ombudsperson independent (48% and 47% respectively), while in all the other countries this % is below 40%.13 It could be stated that the citizens’ opinion corresponds to the ranking in this domain.

Domain 2. Availability of resources and capacities

The average score per institution in this domain is 1.04, which is 0.29 points lower than for domain 1.

The Ombudspersons scored very similarly to each other also in this domain: from 1.00 (Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina) to 1.35 (Kosovo).

The variances are broadest for equality bodies. While the Serbian EB has the highest score in this domain – 1.35, it is closely followed by the Albanian EB and the Kosovan ombudsperson in its mandate as an EB (both scoring 1.25). The Montenegrin Ombudsperson scored the same for this mandate – 1.15. The EB in North Macedonia has scored the absolute minimum of 0.30 (also from all domains). The score of the EB in North Macedonia is due to two main factors: (1) the EB is, under law, not allowed to employ people14 and, basically, functions with the help of volunteers and “borrowed staff” from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy; (2) the EB has a meagre budget (almost three times lower than the other lowest budget of an NHRI in the country – the budget of the FAI authority), which prevents this body from exercising most of its mandate.15

The scores for data protection supervisory authorities and institutions for free access to information are within the range from 0.67 to 1.17, except for the Kosovan ombudsperson in its mandate as an FAI, scoring 1.36. SADPs have the lowest average.

Regarding the indicator separate and independent budget, three aspects were taken into account: whether the NHRI has a separate budget line; whether the budget is decided by parliament (not government); and whether the NHRI is involved in budgetary preparations. The parliament decides on the budget for all NHRIs in the six countries. However, their involvement in budgetary preparation is mainly assessed as inadequate. In Serbia, all NHRIs have a separate budget line, which is not the case in North Macedonia, as only the Ombudsperson has it. All NHRIs have scored medium related to this criterion, except for the EB in Albania, which scored 2 and the EB in North Macedonia which got the score 0. The Albania report states that all national NHRIs “have a say on the drafting of budget requests, regardless of the fact their request could be dismissed or pending for years“.16 However, reports also indicate to underspending of the budget resources, as was the case with the Ombudsperson in Montenegro.17 In addition, the vast part of the budget is spent on salaries, as also shown in the country report for Montenegro.

The Kosovan ombudsperson is the only NHRI, which got the highest score on the indicator of adequate financial resources. Medium grade (1), which meant that the institution “had enough financial resources for some parts of its mandate, but not for all” was assigned to all other ombudspersons, as well as to all other equality bodies, except for the Macedonian one, which scored 0. All SADPs received a medium score, while the situation is more diverse in the case of the FAI, which in the cases of Montenegro, Albania and BiH are medium, maximum for Kosovo, and minimum for North Macedonia. SADP- FAI in Serbia and the SADP and FAI in North Macedonia scored the lowest (0), which means that they do not have enough financial resources to fulfil their legal mandate. The case of the SADP – FAI explained in the country report on Serbia is illustrative: according to the Commissioner, the funds in the Budget for 2018 were not sufficient even for the salaries of the existing number of employees, despite the fact that in all the programming documents of the Government and the National Assembly, as well as in the Action Plan for the Chapter 23 it is stipulated that one of the goals is to strengthen the institution’s staff resources. Funds were secured last-minute from budgetary reserves before payments were due.18 However, the example of the Kosovan law on the ombudsperson might be interesting in terms of safeguarding NHRI’s financial independence: the Ombudsperson prepares its budget and presents it to the Assembly for approval; it may be less than the last years’ budget only if approved by the Ombudsperson; if the Ombudsperson’s responsibilities increase, then its budget should increase.19  

In the table below, the budgets of all NHRIs in the six countries are presented for 2018, as a sum (in EUR) and as a percentage of the national budget.

 MNE MKD Serbia
in EURThe budget of the NHRI% of the National BudgetThe budget of the NHRI% of the National BudgetThe budget of the NHRI% of the National BudgetThe budget of the NHRI% of the National BudgetThe budget of the NHRI% of the National Budget21The budget of the NHRI% of the National Budget
EB  90,081.000.0026771,647.630.0076541,148.000.013    
FAI  267,967.000.0078        
Table 4 - The budgets of all NHRIs in the six countries are presented for 2018, as a sum (in EUR) and as a percentage of the national budget.

The total percentage of each national budget spent for the NHRIs in the country ranges from 0.04% in Serbia to 0.07% in Montenegro and Kosovo and is in the middle for North Macedonia – 0.05%. The differences seem logical, taking into account the size of the countries and the size of their national budgets. However, no proportionality can be observed in the individual allocations to the NHRIs in each country, except in the case of Montenegro, where both NHRIs (which have double mandates) have been allocated almost equal funds.

In some cases, there is little correlation between the amount allocated to the NHRI and the effectiveness as assessed by this research. Such is the case, e.g. with the EB in Serbia, which scored highest as an individual body, as well as the SADP in North Macedonia, which scored second high, although these institutions have received relatively lower funds from the national budgets than the other NHRIs. In North Macedonia, the discrepancy in this correlation is high between the SADP and FAI – they both received almost equal funds, but the FAI has scored much lower in this research. The data protection authority in Kosovo received the least amount of funds and has low effectiveness – the same correlation is valid for the EB in North Macedonia, which received the least amount of funds in the country and is the least effective.

While it is challenging to set a quantitative standard for sufficiency of the allocated funds to the NHRIs, the presented data and the evident discrepancies demonstrate the need for introducing more objective and measurable indicators for funding the functioning of the NHRIs.

On the indicator transparent and meritocratic recruitment procedures, none of theNHRIs scored maximum 2, as none was assessed as recruiting staff independently, in a transparent and meritocratic manner. MostNHRIsare ranked medium (1), meaning that the NHRIs recruits its staff, but there are modes for transfer of staff by the government or other forms of influence on staff recruitment exerted by the government. The Data ProtectionDirectorate of Kosovo also scored 0, as well as theOmbudsman in Albania,in the latterrecruitments are subject to the procedure by the Law on Civil Servants. The score for the EB in North Macedonia is also 0, as it simply did not have any staff, only commissioners were appointed. As noted in the Albania Country Report, although the procedure seems de jure transparent, there is always the possibility of the technical staff to be appointed based on political affinity.20 This observation is also valid for the other NHRIs in the region.  

The Kosovan Ombudsperson and the Albanian EB had the highest score on the sub-indicator sufficient human resources, signifying thatthe institutionhas enough staff to carry out its mandate fully. The most frequent is the medium score (1), meaning that the NHRIs have a sufficient number of staff for some parts of their mandate, but not for all. Such is the case with ombudspersons in all countries, except for Kosovo; with EBs in Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as with SADP-FAI in Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia. The EB in North Macedonia, the SADP-FAI in Serbia and SADP in Kosovo do not have enough staff to carry out their mandates fully and are consequently assigned 0. As stated previously, the EB in North Macedonia did not have any staff.

The Ombudsperson in Montenegro and the EB in Serbia got the maximum value (2) for the sub-indicator adequate human resources, as it was assessed thatthey hadrecruited sufficiently qualified staff members, from a variety of fields, providing expertise in all aspects of their work. The EB and the FAI in North Macedonia, as well as the SADP in Kosovo, are graded with a minimum (0), meaning that the current staff does not have the expertise for all aspects of the institution’s mandate. All other NHRIs were graded medium (1), meaning that current staff has the expertise for carrying out the basic mandate, but the institution lacks specialised staff. The growing requirements for expertise in data protection in the relevant NHRI pose an additional challenge, especially that the needs of the private sector have also increased.

The issue of pluralism, which is a specific indicator for the ombudspersons and the EBs, based on defined international standards, is the most unified for the countries, as they were all assessed with the medium score of 1, meaning that the composition of (members and) staff reflects the diversity in society to some extent and not fully. As illustrative we present here the Macedonian case of the Ombudsperson.21 There is diversity concerning gender, although women are somewhat overrepresented; as for ethnicity, Albanians are overrepresented, whereas some of the other ethnicities (such as the Turks) are underrepresented.22 In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the structure of employees follows the “national key” logic.23 It is indicative that all the countries lack information as to other diversity – such as disability, sexual orientation or age.

As for training, most NHRIs in the region were graded medium. As indicated in the Montenegro country report, the funds allocated for training in the budget are scarce. The situation in Serbia seems to be different, as all institutions have received the maximum score (2), meaning that the NHRI has a training programme including the NHRI members and staff and key target groups. The Ombudsperson in BiH and the EB in North Macedonia got the minimum score (0).

The specific indicator Internal structure enables the focus on each part of the mandate for Ombudsperson and EB is satisfied highly by ombudspersons in four countries (2). At the same time, in two (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo) it is medium, meaning that the internal structure and distribution of responsibilities of the NHRI units cover all parts of the mandate, but do not enable the appropriate focus to each part of the mandate. Such as the Ombudsperson in Kosovo did not have a dedicated unit for its access to information mandate. The EBs show more variances, as Montenegro and Serbia have scored maximum, while Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo have scored medium. The EB in North Macedonia scored the minimum 0.

On another specific criterion for ombudspersons and EBs regional offices/outreach, the ombudsperson in North Macedonia and Kosovo scored the maximum 2, as the Macedonian Ombudsman has six and the Kosovan – even eight regional offices spread throughout the territory of the country. In Serbia and Albania, both the ombudsperson and EB have some regional offices, but they do not cover the whole territory of the Republic of Serbia or Albania. In Montenegro, the situation is specific due to its small size. Although the institution does not have offices outside of the capital city, it has “postal boxes” and has organised the “Days of the Ombudsperson” in several Montenegrin municipalities.24 In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the plans to establish three additional offices (adding to the three existing regional and one local offices) were never realised, but “office days” in six locations are periodically held.25

Learning and change were also assigned with an indicator. The scores are diverse and do not seem to correlate to the other indicators in this domain. The EB in Serbia, the SADP and FAI in North Macedonia and SADP in Bosnia and Herzegovina scored highest (2), meaning that these NHRIs have an established system of regular strategic planning, with output and impact indicators and an evaluation system. The medium score was assigned to both NHRIs in Montenegro and the Ombudsperson and EB in North Macedonia for not carrying out the strategic planning regularly. The Ombudsperson in Serbia and the SADP in Kosovo scored lowest (0) due to lack of strategic planning overall and/or an evaluation framework.

There is few public information on financial control, mainly from the state audit office reports. Most NHRIs were rated medium (1) as their state audit offices perform audit once in several years, depending on their plans, or do not have established internal control. In Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, the state audit institution is obliged to audit the annual financial statements of the NHRIs, and they have established internal control, which in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina is done by the internal audit unit of the Parliamentary Assembly. Therefore, the NHRIs in these two countries scored the maximum. The EB in North Macedonia scored 0 since it lacks both external and internal control. Although internal control is established in most NHRIs in the region, it seems to be weak. Тhe SAPD-FAI in Serbia is a positive example, having adopted several documents related to internal financial control.26

In sum, Domain 2 ‘Availability of Resources and Capacities’ presents some of the key challenges for the effectiveness of the NHRI. The insufficiency of financial, including human resources is a serious issue, which can also indicate the lack of political will to increase the effectiveness of the NHRI. However, the scores in this domain also point to the insufficient capacity of most NHRIs in the region to further improve their effectiveness by themselves, illustrated by the lack of strategic vision, low capacity for appropriate spending of the available funds, insufficient capacity building and professionalism, inadequate internal organisation and distribution of resources, etc. Furthermore, politicisation in the recruitment process in the NHRIs in the region and lack of pluralism of employees on all grounds are also of concern.

Domain 3. Information, accessibility and cooperation with other relevant actors

While the average scores of indicators in this domain (1.02) is very close to that of Domain 2, the single scores vary much more significantly both in terms of NHRI mandate, as well as in terms of countries.

The Montenegrin Ombudsperson has scored best among ombudspersons (1.37), followed by the Albanian, Kosovan (1.33) and Serbian Ombudsperson (1.13). The Ombudsperson of North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina scored significantly lower than their peers – only 0.90 and 0.77 respectively, which are by far the lowest grades per domain for both institutions. The equality bodies/mandates in Albania, Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro are almost at the same level of effectiveness for this domain: 1.20, 1.30, 1.35 and 1.30. The Bosnian and Herzegovinian and Macedonian EBs scored the lowest also in this domain – 0.85 and 0.55 respectively. On the contrary, the Macedonian SADP has a maximum score – 1.50, in advance of Albania – 1.17, and well in advance of the SADPs of all other countries – Bosnia and Herzegovina – 0.78, Kosovo – 0.89, Montenegro – 1.00, and Serbia – 0.94. FAI scores are relatively even and low on average: 1.06 for Albania, 0.31 for Bosnia and Herzegovina, 0.88 for Kosovo, 0.81 for Montenegro and 0.69 for North Macedonia and Serbia.  

The indicator on parliamentary scrutiny was based on the deliberation of the NHRI reports in the parliaments – in parliamentary bodies or plenary session. Some NHRIs have not even met this rather formal criterion. Without debate in the Parliament, neither in plenary session nor in the parliamentary bodies, has resulted in the lowest score (0) for the Ombudsperson and the SADP in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the SADP-FAI in Serbia. The EB Report in North Macedonia and the SADP report in Albania were only debated in parliamentary bodies (thus receiving the score 1). The reports of the Serbian Ombudsperson and EB were debated only in the parliamentary bodies and not in plenary session not only in 2018, but three years before and thus scored 1 on this indicator. All other NHRI reports were subject to parliamentary plenary debate (hence, the value 2 was assigned). However, as the Montenegrin report points out, “even if the reports of the NHRI are commonly on the agenda of the plenary sessions of the national Parliament, in most cases such plenary debates tantamount to the presentation of the institution’s activities, rather than true scrutiny of its activities”. Hence the high score (2) “may reflect the adequate legislative framework rather than a substantial mechanism of checks and balances”.27

On cooperation with Government, we looked at the issue of consultation of NHRI on government policy proposals related to human rights. In Montenegro and North Macedonia there is no obligation by the Government to consult the NHRIs, although the specific laws may provide the opportunity for NHRIs to contribute to laws and policy proposals, as is the case in Montenegro. Consequently, the ombudspersons and EB in Montenegro and North Macedonia received a minimum score (0). In Serbia, the Government has an obligation to receive an opinion from bodies on the draft laws and strategies within their jurisdiction, according to special laws,28 but there is no obligation to provide feedback on the provided proposals due to which all NHRIs got the middle score (1). The situation is similar in Albania, so the Albanian Ombudsperson also scored 1 on this indicator. The indicator was set slightly lower for SADPs and FAIs, due to the less explicit requirements in international standards. The SADP and FAI all received the middle score, except for the SADP in Kosovo, which scored 2 and the FAI in North Macedonia, which scored 0.

The specific indicator set for ombudspersons and EBs providing information to NHRI refers to the obligation to provide data to the NHRI – in general, or related to specific cases. All ombudspersons, as well as EB in all countries, scored highest (2) as the executive and other branches/bodies have an obligation to provide relevant data to the NHRI, as well as data for evidence on specific cases. The score assigned to the EB in North Macedonia was 1, as there is an only general obligation to provide relevant data, but not data for evidence on specific cases. 

Cooperation with other NHRIs is existing, but mainly not in a structured manner. The indicator itself was not set as a formal requirement for memoranda of understanding or other signed documents but looked into actual proof of such cooperation. On this indicator, only the Montenegrin Ombudsperson scored 2. The Serbian NHRIs cut medium (1), as the cooperation usually means participation in conferences, round tables, meetings and expert meetings in the organization of NHRIs or other organisations,29 referral to reports of other NHRIs,30 rejection of complaints if citizens did not use the opportunity to address specialized NHRIs first,31 joint initiatives, etc. Unstructured cooperation was also the reason for a medium score (1) for all NHRIs in Kosovo, as well as in Albania. In North Macedonia,theOmbudsperson and the EB scored 1, whilethe SADP and FAI scored 0. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is an absence of cooperation between the NHRIs in general, so all institutions scored 0. Thisis assessed as “one of the weakest elements for all NHRIs in this domain is their mutual cooperation”, as the only sign of cooperation is the memorandum for understanding signed by the Ombudsperson and the CPAD, as well as forwarding cases which do not fall within Ombudsperson’s competence to the CPAD.32

The scores on cooperation with NGOs vary across countries and HNRIs, depending on whether the cooperation in fact existed at all, and whether it was well structured or not. While the Montenegrin Ombudsperson scored highest (2), the Macedonian scored lowest (0), and all other countries received a middle score (1). The high score of the Montenegrin Ombudsperson is due to having “actively and frequently teamed up with NGOs and the media, thus promoting its activities, especially as regards the rights of the child”.33 The Macedonian EB score is explained by the very superficial and sporadic cooperation with NGOs and deliberate acts of exclusion.34 The other lowest score – the FAI in North Macedonia is due to the fact that even though this institution had cooperated more with NGOs in the previous years, in 2018 this cooperation was lacking. All other NHRIs scored 1, as cooperation existed, but it was not pursued in a structured manner.

The indicator providing information on rights was based on the standard on publishing information on rights in an easy-to-read language, as well as the provision of translation into “all languages commonly used in the country” for the ombudspersons and EBs, as the latter is an explicit standard for them. The Albanian, Bosnian and Montenegrin ombudspersons scored middle (1), since information is not in all languages commonly used in the country. The Serbian Ombudsperson, the Kosovan Ombudsperson and SADP, and the Macedonian Ombudsperson and EB scored 0, as the information is not in an easy-to-read language, but rather formal. Except for Kosovo and Albania, all SADPs and FAIs scored 1, as they published information on rights, but they are not in an easy-to-read language. Upon the specific sub-indicator for SAPD providing information for data subjects, the Macedonian SADP scored highest (2), the Kosovan SADP lowest (1) compared to the other SADPs, which cut middle (1), which means that Macedonian SA has publicised the rights of data subjects contained in the Modernised Convention 108, as well as the manner of assisting non-residents.

The indicator on accessibility was broken down to sub-indicators for different NHRIs, to reflect the more precise requirements in international standards for specific categories. The general accessibility of the institution was measured through easily accessible premises (as physical positioning), online, email and telephone services. According to this indicator, all NHRIs in Serbia, the ombudspersons of Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia and the SADP of Albania scored high (2). The Montenegrin EB and SADP-FAI, the SADP in North Macedonia, the ombudspersons and EBs of Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina scored 1. The EB and FAI in North Macedonia scored the lowest (0). Accessibility for persons with disabilities remains an issue. Most NHRIs are accessible to persons with physical disabilities, but not other types of disabilities, such as sensory disabilities, resulting in a middle score (1) for the ombudspersons of Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, EB in Albania and Serbia and all SADP FAI except for Kosovo. The ombudspersons of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, the EB in North Macedonia and the SADP of Kosovo are inaccessible for physical disability, as well. It is worth mentioning that some NHRIs make serious efforts to increase accessibility for persons with disabilities, such as the EB and the SADP-FAI in Serbia, “as their websites are accessible for persons with disabilities, the latter also having a listening option”.35 On accessibility for children, as a specific sub-indicator for ombudspersons, all ombudspersons scored differently – Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro the highest (2), Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia in the middle (1) and North Macedonia – lowest (0).

Most NHRIs are active in international networks and activities. All of the NHRIs received a high score on membership in relevant international organisations/networks (2), except for the Montenegrin SADP-FAI, and Kosovan SADP which scored low (0) since they are members in less than two relevant international organisations or bodies. Concerning participation in international activities, all ombudspersons and EBs scored high (2), while EB in North Macedonia scored medium (1). The SADPs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia scored high (2), and the SADP in Albania and Kosovo cut middle (1). Having participated in less than five international events, the SADP in Montenegro scored low (0). All countries scored low in international activities concerning the mandate of FAI, which apart from their low activity in this field, could also reflect the fact that official international activities are much less frequent than in the other areas. As the indicators on international activities were set as quantitative, generally based on the number of relevant organisations in which the NHRI is a member/observer or the number of relevant international events in which it has participated, it does not provide an insight in the quality and actual contribution and achievements from the membership/participation. Such assessment cannot be derived from the reports and public information of the NHRIs in the region, as they mainly list the activities, but do not assess the substance of their contribution or achievements from the international activities. Consequently, additional research is needed to evaluate the level of socialization of the NHRIs from the region in the international human rights sphere. Under the specific indicator for transnational cooperation on specific cases for the SADPs, which was quantitatively set based on the number of cases, ranked the Macedonian SADP highest (2), the Albanian, Serbian and Montenegrin SADP scored middle and the Bosnian and Herzegovinian and Kosovan SADP scored zero. 

None of the ombudspersons and none of the EBs except for the Ombudsperson of Kosovo and the EB of Serbia (scoring highest – 2) has a communication strategy. None of the SADPs and FAIs, except for the Macedonian ones has a communication strategy (SADP was assigned 2 and FAI 1, since its communication strategy did not have a reference period). It also has to be noted that the indicator was set in such a way not to insist on a separate document, but rather practically on a strategy, regardless in what form/which document it is presented. This situation is worrying, as one of the key mandates of NHRIs is the promotion of human rights and therefore, the NHRIs need to approach their target groups and the broader public in a well-planned manner.

On confidentiality/protection with the Ombudspersons and EBs,it was checked whether and to what extent confidentiality to witnesses and whistle-blowers is provided. Half of the ombudspersons (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia) and all of the EB scored middle (1), as they ensure confidentiality to a limited extent, mainly referring to the general legal framework. The Albanian, the Kosovan and the Serbian ombudspersons scored highest (2), as they have a prescribed obligation to protect whistle-blowers. The SADPs have the obligation for safeguarding professional secrecy with and after the term of office, which is sufficiently guaranteed in all countries (2), and to a limited extent in Serbia, which scored middle – 1. 

While the status and challenges in this domain somewhat vary per country and per body, some common issues can be extrapolated.

Challenges in the region are still pertaining even to a basic standard as debating the reports of NHRIs in parliament, while substantial parliamentary scrutiny is missing. Cooperation with government through contribution to policy and law proposals is ongoing. Still, in many cases, there is no formal requirement for the governments to request an opinion from NHRI and no obligation for feedback. Structured cooperation with other NHRIs and with NGO is generally lacking. While international cooperation is rather vivid, NHRIs do not provide information on the substance of their contributions and achievements of the international socialisation. Although NHRIs provide information on the rights, they are mostly in a formal, rather than easy-to-read language. Accessibility for persons with disabilities, primarily sensory disabilities is an issue for all NHRIs. Only three NHRIs (and no ombudsperson) in the region have established a communication strategy, which points out to a low level of capacity of NHRIs to approach their target groups and citizens. The protection of witnesses and whistle-blowers, as well as professional secrecy rules for SADP in most cases, need to be strengthened.

Domain 4: Mandate and powers

The average score of indicators in this domain is 1.22. The maximum score is 1.52, while the minimum 0.63, thus a difference of 0.89 points can be observed.

The ombudspersons score within a range 0.96-1.52, the Kosovan scoring highest (1.52), and the Albanian– lowest 0.96. Variances are smaller with the EBs, the EB in Serbia scoring highest – 1.49 and the EB of North Macedonia scoring the lowest 0.95. The SADP mandate and powers are more robust in North Macedonia and Serbia – 1.50 versus the lowest 0.88 in Kosovo. The FAI mandate in Serbia and Albania is scoring the same (1.50), followed by 1.19 of Montenegro and the low 0.88, 0.69 and 0.63 of the Macedonian, Kosovan and BiH FAI, respectively. 

The indicators in this domain are more diversified, as the mandates and powers are specific for each body. Consequently, we present the findings for each body/mandate, comparatively for all the countries.


All ombudspersons, except for the Albanian, have a broad mandate on human rights promotion in line with the Paris principles: competence to freely address public opinion, raise public awareness on human rights issues, carry out education and training programs and making use of the press.

The ombudspersons of Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo havean explicit mandate to promote and ensure ratification and harmonization of national legislation, regulations and practices with the international human rights instrumentsand to promote and ensure their effective implementation, but not an explicit obligation to contribute to the reports which states are required to submit to international bodies and institutions and express an opinion on the subject, with due respect for their independence. Thus they all scored medium (1). The ombudspersons of Albania and BiH scored 0, as they do not have an explicit mandate for these actions.

On the indicator coverage of sectors, ombudspersons in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo scored high 2, as they cover both the public authorities and the private sector performing public functions. Ombudspersons in Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia cut medium as they cover the public authorities, without significant exceptions, but do not cover the private sector performing public functions.

Regarding powers for human rights protection, in all the countries the ombudsperson has both the power to obtain statements to assess situations raising human rights issues and the authority to compel witnesses, thus scoring 2 on the sub-indicator investigation. Allombudspersons have the power of unannounced and free access to inspect and examine any public premises, documents, equipment and assets, resulting in the score 2 to each of them. While equipped with other relevant powers for complaints, none of the Ombudspersons in the region has the ability to settle complaints through a binding determination, does scoring medium (1) on the powers on complaints. The ombudspersons in North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have an unlimited authority to join or initiate action in court, achieving2 on this sub-indicator, as opposed to Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo, which do not have this authority and scored the minimum. The Kosovan ombudsperson can only act as an amicus curiae in courts but does have standing before the Constitutional Court on constitutionality issues.36

An important indicator for ombudspersons is the follow-up of its recommendations. The reports of the Ombudsperson in North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina do not reveal this data and were therefore assigned the minimum 0. The Serbian Ombudsperson scored 2, as 93,15 % of his recommendations were accepted by public bodies in 2018.37 The Montenegrin, Albanian and the Kosovan Ombudsperson scored 1 (meaning that less than 90% of its recommendations were followed). The Montenegrin Ombudsperson highlighted that one of the key challenges the institution faces is the ‘attitude towards the unfollowed recommendation of the Ombudsperson’.38

Concerning initiatives to national authorities, halfof the ombudspersonsin the regionscored high, being very active in submitting initiatives and proposals (Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo), while the ombudspersons from Montenegro, North Macedonia and Albania scored medium.They all scored high (2)in submitting special reports, in addition to the annual report.

The mandate and powers of the ombudspersons as a national prevention mechanism in all the countries, except for Bosnia and Herzegovina, are entirely in line with the OP-CAT, resulting in the maximum grade of 2 for the three institutions. The ombudsperson institution of Bosnia and Herzegovina does not have a basis for this mandate in law.

Concerning the mandate on the rights of the child, the Macedonian Ombudsperson has scored highest (2), as it also has the authority to bring cases to court, which is not the case in Montenegro, Serbia, Albania and Kosovo, which have scored medium (1), since they have the mandate for prevention, promotion and protection of children’s rights, but not to bring cases to court. The ombudsperson institution in Bosnia and Herzegovina has a very vague mandate regarding children’s rights.39

The assessment of progress in the EC annual report in 2018 was graded as maximum 2 in North Macedonia and Kosovo, medium 1 in Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and 0 for Albania.

According to the RCC Balkan Barometer survey, only the Montenegrin Ombudsperson passed the threshold of more than 50% having trust in the institution – 58%. The Kosovan Ombudsperson is on the margin – 50% trust, while the others lag behind – Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Serbia and Albania with 40%, 38%, 36%, and 34 % respectively.40 However, what is interesting about the results of this survey is that the ombudspersons in Montenegro and Kosovo had the highest trust compared to other institutions (courts, parliament, government, audit institution). This is the case also with Serbia, although the level of trust is significantly lower. In Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the level of trust was about equal with the audit institution and higher than in the other institutions, while in Montenegro and North Macedonia the scores compete with those of the Government. In North Macedonia, the share of respondents, who do not have a position on the trust to the Ombudsman (have opted for the “I do not know” answer) is the highest – 23%.

There are no public opinion surveys for the other NHRIs.

Equality bodies

All EBs have scored high – 2 on the indicators coverage of grounds. The same is for the status on the specific standards on equal treatment of all persons without discrimination on the grounds of sex. As to the areas/fields of discrimination, all EB except for Kosovoscored 2, as they cover a wide range of issues, still leaving the list open, as well as all areas noted in the ECRI GPR. The Kosovan mandate of EB does not cover hate speech; hence it has scored medium 1. 

The legislative framework ensures a full mandate on promotion and prevention to all EBs asit includes promotion and achievement of equality, prevention and elimination of discrimination and intolerance, including structural discrimination and hate speech and promotion of diversity and good relations between persons belonging to all the different groups in society. In addition, the EBs have an obligation to promote equality through training, raising awareness and developing standards. Consequently, all institutions/mandates scored high (2), except for Albania, which scored medium.

However, there are differences in how EBs perform in practice. The Serbian, Albanian, Kosovan and the EB of Bosnia and Herzegovina were pro-active and thus scored high (2) on initiatives to national authorities, while both institutions in Montenegro and North Macedonia, scored low – 0, with no initiatives submitted. 

When it comes to responsibilities for independent assistance of the EB, in Montenegro and Albania they include all relevant responsibilities: receiving and handling individual or collective complaints; providing legal advice to victims, including in pursuing their complaints; engaging in activities of mediation and conciliation; representing complainants in court, and acting as amicus curiae or expert where required and scored the maximum (2). In the other countries, the EB has an only limited mandate to act as amicus curiae or expert and scored 1. The Serbian EB has actually engaged in cases of strategic litigation, thus scoring 2. One case was initiated in 2018, and several were ongoing.41 All the other EBs achieved medium score (1) as strategic litigation is provided in the legal framework, but their bodies did not engage in such a case. The Macedonian EB did not have the right to issue recommendations, nor legally binding decisions on specific cases, thus scoring the lowest (0). In contrast, the EBs in Montenegro, Serbia, Albania and Kosovo have the right to issue recommendations, but not legally binding decisions on specific cases (achieved middle mark – 1). Only the Ombudsperson in BiH in its mandate as an EB has the right to issue recommendations and legally binding decisions on specific cases, subject to judicial review. On the actual follow-up of recommendations, the Serbian and the BiH EB scored highest (2) as more than 90% were followed, while the Montenegrin, Macedonian and Albanian score is medium (1), due to less than 90% recommendations followed. The Kosovan Ombudsperson in its mandate as an EB scored lowest (0), as no public data are available on the follow-up, despite the legal obligation for its monitoring.42

All EBs allow all manners of submission of complaints: orally, in written form or online and have achieved the highest grade. However, in Montenegro and Serbia, complaints can be submitted “in a language of the complainant’s choosing which is common in the country where the equality body is located” (maximum 2 points assigned). Albania and BiH also scored the maximum 2, while in the Macedonian and Kosovan case this is not ensured for all such languages (thus, 1 was assigned). All EBs scored maximum on the sub-indicator free of charge since the procedure of submission does not impose any costs.

The mandate of the EB in North Macedonia does not explicitly include regular independent surveys, so it got the lowest grade (0). In all the other countries, they are included in the EB mandate but were not performed in 2018, resulting in a medium score (1). In Serbia they are conducted each third year, the last being conducted in 2016.43 In Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia and Kosovo, findings from independent research were included in the reports, while in BiH and Albania they were not included.

The EBs in Albania and Kosovo submitted more than two submissions as a contribution to an international body thus scoring maximum 2 on this indicator, while the BiH institution submitted two, this scoring the medium 1. EBs in Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia did not submit such contributionsin 2018, so they all scored 0.

No public polls are available on public trust specifically for EBs – only for ombudspersons, which have a mandate as an EB.

Only the Kosovan Ombudsperson, which is also acting as an EB, got a high score on the indicator assessment in the EC annual report. All other EBs got the medium score (1), as little or some progress was observed.

Supervisory authorities on data protection

Supervisory authorities on data protection in Montenegro and Serbia have full mandate and powers for monitoring and enforcement of the Data Protection Law and all relevant developments for data protection, so they scored 2. All other SADPs were marked medium (1), as they do not encompass all the powers enlisted under the GDPR.

The Macedonian, Serbian, Albanian and BiH SADPs carried out promotional activities for both the general public and for data controllers and processors, getting the highest mark 2. Montenegro and Kosovo scored 1, as in Montenegro only trainings were organised, and no other activities of promotion, while the Kosovan SADP organised limited promotional activities.

The Serbian SADP- FAI performs a strong advisory role, as it submitted 59 opinions on draft-laws and four initiatives to challenge constitutionality (for the two mandates).44 The SADPs of North Macedonia and Albania also scored high, having submitted more than five initiatives, while Montenegro had less and scored medium (1). The SADP in BiH submitted only one initiative, while the Kosovan institution did not provide a breakdown of data in its report, so it is not clear whether it took the initiative itself; hence, they scored lowest – 0.

All SADPs have full mandate and powers for investigations, in line with the GDPR.AllSADPs in the region, except for Montenegro, have the full mandate and powers to handle complaints by data subjects, issue binding decisions, as well as the obligation to inform the data subject on the progress and outcome of the complaint. In Montenegro, there is no power to issue a binding decision, which is resulting in a middle score (1).

On the regulatory functions/authorisations, theSADPs mainly scored medium (North Macedonia, Albania, BiH and Kosovo), meaning that they have some, but not all the functions and authorisations requires by the GDPR. The SADP in Serbia scores high (2), as it has full mandate and powers for authorisations of codes of conduct, certifications, standard, authorisation of contractual clauses and administrative arrangements and approval of binding corporate rules. Montenegro scored low (0), as the mandate of its SADP does not include such powers.

Good progress in the EC report was observed for SADP in North Macedonia, which scored high (2), Montenegro, Serbia and Albania scored medium (1), while the Serbian and Kosovo institutions scored low (0).

No survey on public trust in the SADP was carried out in any of the countries in the region. 

Institution for free access to information

FAIs in Montenegro, Serbia, Albania and Kosovo (marked 2) have the full mandate for monitoring and oversight, meaning that they “can process requests for information, assist applicants, ensure the proactive dissemination of information by public bodies, monitor compliance with the law and present recommendations to ensure adherence to the right to access information”. The FAI of North Macedonia seems to be missing the mandate for assistance to applicants and proactive dissemination. According to the laws, the BiH institution does have a full mandate. However, in practice, this cannot be realized because public institutions do not fulfil their obligation to deliver data to the Ombudsman, and there are no sanctions.45 Thus, North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have been graded medium (1) regarding this indicator.

The Serbian, Macedonian and Albanian FAI have carried out promotional activities for both the general public and public information holders and scored 2, while in Montenegro only trainings were organised, and in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, only some public awareness activities were organised, resulting in the medium score (1).

The FAIs in Serbia and Albania were pro-active in submitting their initiatives to national authorities and thus scored 2 on the indicator advisory role, while the score for the other countries is 0.

The scores are relatively high concerning the procedures for complaints handling in Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. In all countries, they are free of charge. FAIs in Montenegro, Serbia and North Macedonia have the right to issue binding decisions. They have scored high on this indicator (2), while Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo scored medium as their FAIs cannot issue binding decisions. However, the FAI of Montenegro also scored medium on the manner of submission, unlike the FAIs other two countries, which scored high. 

The assessments in the EC annual report were relatively low, resulting in the score 0 for North Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo and medium score for Montenegro and Albania.

In sum, the main legislative framework for the mandates and powers of NHRIs in the six countries is established, but there are variances, even more so in their performance. Complaints handling seems to be already an established practice, but key issues relate to the follow-up of recommendations. There is room for more pro-activeness of NHRIs on promotion, submission of initiatives to the government, special reports and strategic litigation.

  1. The Anti-Discrimination Law from 2019 was annulled by the Constitutional Court on procedural basis and re-adopted in September 2020.
  2. ADL 2010 Art.18.
  3. Biljana Kotevska, North Macedonia Country Report.
  4. Serbia, Law on Protector of Citizens, Art. 2, para. 1.
  5. In Serbia pressure on the previous PC culminated in 2017, due to which he resigned from office.
  6. Armela Xhaho, Albania Country Report.
  7. MANS, Transparency International: Rejecting requests for access to information causes concern (2018). Available at: https://www.mans.co.me/odbijanje-zahtjeva-za-pristup-informacijama-izaziva-zabrinutost/
  8. Commission for Protection of Discrimination, Opinion No. 0801-295/1 from 05.11.2018.
  9. Commissioner for Free Access to Information and Data Protection, Annual report 2018, 4.
  10. Regional Cooperation Council, ‘Balkan Barometer’ (2019), p. 97 Available at: https://www.rcc.int/download/docs/Balkan-Barometer_Public-Opinion-2019-07-03.pdf/adad30ca8a8c00a259a1803673c86928.pdf.
  11. Ivana Krstic, Serbia Country Report.
  12. Biljana Kotevska, North Macedonia Country Report.
  13. Regional Cooperation Council, ‘Balkan Barometer’ (2019), p. 97.
  14. According to Article 30 of the ADL (2010), “the expert, administrative and technical tasks are to be conducted by the Commission [the commissioners themselves]”.
  15. It is worth noting that in October 2020, outside of the cut-off date for this report a new Law on Prevention and Protection against Discrimination was adopted remedying majority of these deficiencies.
  16. Armela Xhaxho, Albania Country Report.
  17. Marijana Lakovic Draskovic, Daliborka Uljarevic, Boris Maric, Wanda Tiefenbacher, and Maja Stojanovic, Short guide through legislative and institutional framework of human rights protection in Montenegro (Centre for Civic Education, 2015). http://media.cgo-cce.org/2015/05/cgo-cce-short-guide-through-legislative-and-institutional-protection-of-human-rights-in-montenegro.pdf
  18. Serbia, Commissioner, Annual Report 2018, 1.
  19. Kosovo, Law on Ombudsperson, Article 35.
  20. People’s Advocate. Strategic Plan of the People’s Advocate of the Republic of Albania 2019-2022, Tirana, 2018.
  21. The principle of equitable representation in relation to ethnicity is a constitutional principle in North Macedonia.
  22. The 2018 Annual Report – Ombudsperson (n 85) 161–162.
  23. Aida Malkic, Bosnia and Herzegovina Country Report.
  24. Protector of human rights and freedoms of Montenegro, Annual Report (2018), p. 23. Available at: http://www.ombudsman.co.me/docs/1554124685_final-godisnji-izvjestaj-2018.pdf.
  25. OSCE – Assessment of the Work of Bosnia and Herzegovina Institutions in Combating Discrimination.
  26. Ivana Krstic, Serbia Country Report.
  27. Jelena Dzankic, Montenegro Country Report.
  28. Serbia, Government’s Rules of Procedure, Art. 39a para 4.
  29. Serbia, Commissioner, Annual report 2018, 79.
  30. Serbia, CPE, Annual report 2018, 211.
  31. Serbia, PC, Annual report 2018, 104.
  32. Biljana Kotevska, North Macedonia Country Report.
  33. Jelena Dzankic, Montenegro Country Report.
  34. Biljana Kotevska, North Macedonia Country Report.
  35. Ivana Krstic, Serbia Country Report.
  36. Natyra Avdiu and Edona Ahmetaj, Kosovo Country Report.
  37. Serbia, Protector of Citizens, Annual report (2018), 16.
  38. Protector of human rights and freedoms of Montenegro, Annual Report (2018), p. 203. Available at: http://www.ombudsman.co.me/docs/1554124685_final-godisnji-izvjestaj-2018.pdf.
  39. Aida Malkic, Bosnia and Herzegovina Country Report, p.22.
  40. Regional Cooperation Council, Balkan Barometar 2019, Public Opinion, Analytical Report, Sarajevo, 2019, https://www.rcc.int/seeds/files/RCC_BalkanBarometer_PublicOpinion_2019.pdf.
  41. Ivana Krstic, Serbia Country Report.
  42. Natyra Avdiu and Edona Ahmetaj, Kosovo Country Report.
  43. CPE, The Attitude of Citizens Towards Discrimination in Serbia, 2016, http://ravnopravnost.gov.rs/izvestaj-o-istrazivanju-javnog-mnjenja/
  44. Serbia, Commissioner, Annual Report, 68-74.
  45. Analitika, The right to access to information in BiH: towards a more effective institutional framework, 2015.