On 5 October 2016 legal professionals from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" and Croatia gathered in Belgrade to discuss European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) standards and related ECtHR case-law on asylum. The event was organised by the HELP Programme of the Council of Europe (www.coe.int/help), UNHCR and the Belgrade Law Faculty and addressed the protection of asylum-seekers in particular regarding non-refoulement, access to a fair and efficient asylum procedure, adequate reception conditions and protection from arbitrary and unlawful detention. Despite the decrease in the number of arrivals through the Balkan Route following notably the implementation of the EU-Turkey Agreement of March 2016, the proper interpretation and application of the ECHR in the region remains critical to ensure persons in need of international protection who are still present in the countries concerned are treated in accordance with relevant European standards.
The event was followed on the same day by the launching of the HELP/UNHCR Course on the ECHR and Asylum for a pilot group of Serbian legal professionals. Serbia is the first country in the Western Balkans where this training tool is being rolled out. The same course has already been completed in Belgium, France, Georgia, Russia, Spain and Turkey. In Greece, the course is being completed for a pilot group of lawyers (together with the Athens Bar Association) and will be launched for a group of administrative judges and members newly appointed to the Appeal Committees on 8 November 2016, in cooperation with the Greek School of Judges.