The Biljana Kovaceviv-Vuco Fund is proud to announce Slobodan Jovanović is the winner of the 2013 Biljana Kovaceviv-Vuco Award for Human Rights Defenders.
At a ceremony at Belgrade City Hall Mr. Jovanović was announced as the 2013 Award laureate.
In addition to Mr. Jovanović, Živorad Branković and Valentina Krstić, Svetlana Šarić and the faculty and staff of the Teacher Training College in Vršac, were shortlisted for the Award.
The BKV Fund is proud to be associated with all of the shortlisted nominees. They have made an impact on our schools, our legal system, our public institutions and our homes through their efforts to train educators, campaign for the improved legislation to protect children, combat corruption and abuse of public office by public officials, and protect women and children from domestic violence.
Slobodan Jovanović was nominated and chosen as this year's laureate for his campaign to improve legislation protecting children. After his own eight year-old daughter was raped and murdered, Mr Jovanović began a tireless campaign to improve legislation and raise public awareness in order that other parents would not suffer the same tragedy. A law, dubbed Marija’s Law in memory of his Mr Jovanović’s daughter, was adopted this year, creating a sex offenders register.
Svetlana Šarić was nominated for her work to protect and support women and children suffering domestic violence. Mrs Šarić is a veteran campaigner, working in the Vlasotince area to promote human rights and empower local women. She founded and runs the SOS Hotline for Women and Children Victims of Violence in Vlasotince, which is a model for grassroots, community-oriented efforts to promote and protect human rights.
Živorad Branković and Valentina Krstic were nominated for their courageous efforts to combat abuse of office and corruption. Mr Branković was dismissed from his position as prison warden at the Nis Correctional Facility after initiating disciplinary procedures and filing criminal charges against prison guards who used prisoners to steal state property. Mr Branković has campaigned to raise awareness of these criminal abuses of office and of prisoners’ rights. Mrs Krstić was dismissed from the same facility in 2012 after whistleblowing on abuse of office and corruption at the prison. She also won a court case against her dismissal this year, and, like Mr Branković, has recently returned to work at the facility.
The Teacher Training Collage in Vrsac (VISOKE ŠKOLE ZA OBRAZOVANJE VASPITAČA U VRŠCU) is nominated for is groundbreaking work to train Roma teachers in the Romani language. In 2013 the collage’s first generation of teachers trained to teach in the Roma language will graduate. The collage’s visionary work is an important step forward for promoting and protecting the rights and culture of Serbia’s most marginalized minority community. Their work, which this year achieves an important milestone, is building an important foundation for the future of our county.
The BKV Award was established in 2011 to honour the memory of Biljana Kovačević-Vučo, who is missed greatly. We are proud to be able to continue to promote the cause of human rights in her name.
Fund BKV would like to thank the Netherlands Embassy in Belgrade, Austrian Embassy in Belgrade, the British Embassy in Belgrade and the Fund for an Open Society for their support for the Biljana Kovaceviv-Vuco Award for Human Rights Defenders this year and since the award was established in 2011.