National preventive mechanisms (NPMs) of the so-called South-East Europe (SEE) established on 26th of March 2013 in Belgrade a network, for the purpose of achieving greater cooperation, exchange of experiences and other joint activities for achieving most effective fulfilment of the NPM mandate specified in the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) in the region.
On this particular occasion, representatives of the NPMs of Albania, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Serbia (in presence and agreement also of one of the Ombudsmen from Bosnia and Herzegovina) adopted Declaration on Cooperation, elected the Chairperson (Mr. Ivan Šelih, Deputy Ombudsman of the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Slovenia – for a period of one year) and defined initial objectives. Also participating in the meeting were representatives of the Council of Europe (CoE), Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of the Committee against Torture (SPT), Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), European Commission, European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Provincial Ombudsman of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, various non-governmental organizations and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which co-organized the meeting together with the Ombudsman of the Republic of Serbia.
In October 2013, the Austrian Ombudsman Board filed an application to participate in the SEE NPM Network, which was then discussed at the 1st meeting of the Medical Group of the SEE NPM Network, held in Belgrade on 24 and 25 October 2013, and unanimous decision (also taking into account Article 5 of the Declaration of Cooperation) to admit the NPM Austria to the network membership had been reached. Later, the Network joined Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Kosovo.
At the moment SEE NPM Network has 11 full members and 2 observers. The members of the SEE NPM Network consult each other with practical questions that arise during their monitoring work. Twice a year network meetings are organized by one of its members. The network also formed two working groups.
In the period 2013-2014, the Network was chaired by the Slovenian NPM, then 2015 by the Albanian NPM, Austrian NPM for 2016, Serbian NPM for 2017, Montenegrin NPM 2018, Macedonian NPM 2019, Croatian NPM 2020, Hungarian NPM for 2021, Austrian NPM for 2022 and Greek NPM for 2023.
At the same time, in addition to regular meetings over the years, meetings of the legal and medical groups that exist within the Network have been held (see more in previous activities)