On 1 March 2013, the seminar for judges acting in the first and the second instance procedures and judicial assistants from the Region of Sumadija and Pomoravlje was held in the Basic Court in Kragujevac on the amendments to the Law on Non-Contentious Procedure, which stipulate a new procedure for determination of date and place of birth. This was the second councelling for judges and judicial assistants organized with an aim to ensure more detailed introduction into the concerned legal regulations and their effects in practice. The intention of the organizers was, among others, to bring the goals of Technical group formed on the basis of the Memorandum of Understanding and concluded between the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration, Ombudsperson and UNHCR, closer to the judicial bodies. The participants were addressed by the Assistant to the Minister of Justice and Public Administration Jasmina Benmansur, who talked about the registration in the birth registry book and the significance of newly adopted solutions for the stated procedure, then by the Assistant Secretary of the Ombudsperson, Mr Robert Sepi, the Associate Protection Officer at UNHCR Davor Rako, Praxis Legal Advisor Jelena Milonjic, and a professor of the Faculty of Law at the University of Belgrade, PhD Nikola Bodiroga.
The representatives of institutions and organizations working on the protection of rights of individuals and vulnerable groups – Ombudsperson, UNHCR and Praxis, pointed at the importance and effect of standardization of the procedure for determination of the fact of birth for the eradication of the phenomenon of legally invisible persons in Serbia. Upon the presentation of the Deputy General Secretary of the Ombudsperson on the regulation of civil status and expected effects of new regulations on certain problematic situations occurring in practice, Praxis representative presented the specific examples from the practice of this organization.
PhD Nikola Bodiroga talked about the legal aspects, interpretation and analysis from the viewpoint of practical implementation of newly adopted solutions. The guidelines for acting upon some provisions of the new law were given. In addition to considering the issues of the court competence, ex-officio procedure, the contents of the motion for the initiation of the procedure, process issues and issues related to the solution and procedure for putting it out of force, PhD Bodiroga also gave some useful suggestions in terms of more extensive interpretation of the term “legal interest for initiation of procedure”, in order to enable the initiation of this procedure by legal persons, collectivity, associations, bodies and organizations dealing with the protection of human and minority rights, rights of vulnerable groups, etc. Also, the interpretations referring to the mutual relation of the concerned non-contentious and administrative procedures of subsequent birth registration were also presented. Since the existing provisions of the Law do not provide judges with sufficiently precise instruction for proceeding. The presenter was of the opinion that it was not necessary to wait for the completion of the concerned administrative procedure and that the court should not be bound by decisions or activities taken in the previously (or simultaneously) conducted procedure of subsequent birth registration before the administrative bodies. An issue that was also raised was that of the possibility of conducting the procedure of determination of date and place of birth for the use of the concerned court decision for the registration in birth registry book of persons from the territory of Kosovo in case of destroyed or missing registry books where it is not possible to conduct the reregistration in registry books in the administrative procedure for the lack of suitable evidence. The Assistant to the Minister of Justice and Public Administration suggested that with the appropriate corrections of the existing bylaws, the procedure for determination of date and place could also be conducted with an aim of birth registration for persons from Kosovo that find themselves in the above stated situation. However, nothing concrete could be stated apart from the critique of the adopted solution and hope that legislative bodies would soon tackle the correction of the valid provision, about the essentially most disputable solution of the new Law on Amendments to the Law on Non-Contentious Procedure, Article 71k, Item 2, envisaging that the body of the internal affairs is not bound by the court decision on determination of date and place of birth when reaching the decision on citizenship. The proposal for the deletion of the Article 71k, Item 2, of the Law on Non-Contentious Procedure was submitted to the National Assembly on 4 February 2013 by the Ombudsperson.
Through the discussion in the final part of the seminar, the present judges expressed their opinions about the newly adopted regulations and exchanged their experience in conducting a few initiated procedures for determination of the date and place of birth in Sumadija and Pomoravlje regions. It was pointed at the delicacy of adopted solutions regarding the length of deadline for conducting the procedure, dilemmas in reference to certain evidence and problems encountered in practice. The conclusions that were drawn refer to the need for specifying some provisions of the new law, which could be achieved through the issuance of precise guidelines for interpretation and possible corrective intervention of the legislator. Furthermore, joint expectancy was expressed that the existing dilemmas would be removed through the establishment of practice by deciding upon a more significant number of requests for determination of date and place of birth.