On 14 February 2013, the training on registration in birth registry book was held for registrars and deputy registrars administering the registry books for respective areas in the territory of the City of Belgrade, in Sava Centre in Belgrade. The training was organized by the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration in cooperation with Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Policy, Ombudsperson, UNHCR and Praxis. The employees in the organizational units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs dealing with administrative affairs related to citizenship issues in the territory of Belgrade also attended the training along with employees from social welfare centres from the territory of the City of Belgrade dealing with the affairs related to registration in birth registry book.
The training was planned as a part of the campaign of the organizers directed at the eradication of the phenomenon of legally invisible persons by 2015, conducting of birth registration procedure and procedure for determination/acquisition of citizenship without any difficulty and for all persons under the equally available conditions and at ensuring that possession of personal documents and equal access to rights become the rule.
Upon introducing the participants into the contents of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), concluded between the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration, Ombudsperson and UNHCR, and presentation of activities of Technical Group in regard to the implementation of the MoU, the participants were given a more thorough insight into the problem of legally invisible persons in Serbia and difficulties related to subsequent birth registrations. In addition, views were presented on legal frameworks and practical applicability of new regulations, problems in their implementation, possible solutions and importance (it specifically refers to newly adopted solutions of the Law on Non-Contentious Procedure, Law on Permanent and Temporary Residence of Citizens and compliance of the Law on Registry Books, Family Law and other applicable regulations with the new regulations).
Thematic presentations of the representatives of the Professional Service of the Ombudsperson and the above stated ministries concerned the work of the first instance bodies in the subsequent birth registration procedure, acquisition and termination of citizenship and registration of citizenship in the citizenship registries of the Republic of Serbia and the role of the guardianship body in the organization of family-legal protection of persons not registered in birth registries. Praxis’ contribution to the training was through the presentation of its representatives, the Executive Director Ivanka Kostic and legal advisor Jelena Milonjic, on the problems in conducting the procedure of subsequent birth registration, supported by the presentation and analysis of cases from practice.
In the final part of the training, the participants discussed the insufficiently clarified aspects in the concerned field. The representatives of the competent state bodies were asked about the disputable details of new normative solutions. However, many questions remained open even this time. It particularly refers to conducting of the procedure for registration of permanent residence at the address of social welfare centres, which evidences the lack of political will and intersectoral collaboration to simplify the respective procedure. Normative regulation in the respective area reflects new uncertainties and different acting in the same matter: by passing new, mutually insufficiently complied and frequently insufficiently precise bylaws. In regard to the implementation of the Law on Non-Contentious Procedure, it is still disputable when a party should address the court and when the administrative body, since the existing regulations do not clearly specify it. Also, the fact that the body of internal affairs responsible for conducting the procedure for acquisition/determination of citizenship is not bound by the court decision on determination of date and place of birth causes additional difficulties for persons who have been subsequently registered in birth registries based on the court decision. Special attention was paid to it during the discussion, particularly in reference to persons who are not able to prove their origin.
In addition to the stated, the subjects of the discussion of participants were also the situations in which the competent administrative body will refer the persons not registered in birth registry books to court determination of date and place of birth for subsequent birth registration, legal effects of the court decision from this procedure, and the issue of potential alteration of the applicable regulation and introduction of the possibility of registration of the fact of citizenship (determination) based on court decision, then the issue of determination of territorial jurisdiction of the acting bodies, insufficiently complied rules of procedure for determination of personal name before the social welfare center (SWC), and the procedure for the registration of permanent residence at the address of SWC in accordance with the new solutions of the Law on Permanent and Temporary Residence of Citizens, and particularly disputable issues of evidence needed to be enclosed in the request for the concerned registration at the address of SWC. The representatives of the competent ministries are not yet able to give complied and precise answers to some questions important for conducting procedures necessary for the solution of the problem of legally invisible persons.
In order to achieve the goals of the campaign within which the training was held, there is an obvious necessity for future interventions in terms of norms, adoption of more precise laws and bylaws and compliance of the interpretations with practice of competent state bodies. The importance of the training can be perceived primarily through the prism of popularization of the problem of legally invisible persons, and the success of the achievement of the proclaimed goals will depend on the future efforts of all competent bodies and services.