Works have begun on the re-construction of the only female prison in Serbia in the town of Požarevac, through a joint project of the European Union and the Ministry of Justice (Administration for enforcement of penal sanctions). The European Union is providing €2.6 million while the Republic of Serbia is providing €400.000 for the reconstruction of the facility, which has been contracted through the Ministry of Finance.
By the end of the works, the prison is expected to provide improved living conditions for the women as well as provide better vocational and education facilities for the employment and reintegration of female inmates into Serbian society.
In commenting on this EU assistance, Mr Nicolas Bizel Head of Section at the EU Delegation stated that in seeking to help Serbia meet EU standards related to penal reform and fundamental rights, significant EU financing is being provided. In view of the age and conditions of Serbian prisons, reconstructions and adjustments are required for a more modern place of incarceration. He added that this is important not only for ensuring that criminal sanctions are carried out securely and safely, but also for the protection of fundamental rights of incarcerated individuals.
Penal reform is a long term process and takes many years to address and improve combined with a wider use of alternative measures and alternative sanctions.
This project is part of a larger EU support programme for penal reform in Serbia which totals €7 million over the coming 3 years and includes support to the national authorities to improve prison standards, health care in prisons and post release care, improved training for prison staff, as well as the procurement of vehicles for probation offices and tractors for prisons, amongst other support. In addition, the EU is also providing €780,000 for a project implemented by the Council of Europe to support the improvement of detention standards, the treatment of inmates as well as individuals under psychiatric care.
The European Union is the largest donor to the Republic of Serbia, having provided over €3 billion in grant financing since 2000.