Social & Economic rights

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Praxis' Comment on the Draft Law on Registry Books

At the Roundtable, organized on 31st March 2008 by the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government on the occasion of presenting the Draft Law on Registry Books, Praxis pointed out that neither the Draft Law, nor the existing Law on Registry books offer solutions for conducting an efficient and simple procedure of subsequent registration into registry books of persons who are not recognized before the law.

Praxis has also pointed out that present legally unbearable situation, i.e. the fact that there are dozens of thousands of “legally invisible” persons, mainly Roma, living in the country, has been occupying the attention of various international and non-governmental organisations, but that their efforts to solve the problems of “legally invisible” persons by submitting individual requests were usually futile. Records show that these procedures are complicated and inefficient, and their outcome uncertain.

In order to solve the problem of "legally invisible" persons in Serbia, Praxis emphasised that a systemic legal solution should be made. In that sense, it is necessary to enable the recognition of persons before the law in a simple and efficient procedure, which would not be burdened by numerous formal legal conditions, related to both the fact of birth itself, i.e. data on one’s birth, and proving of the same fact.

New legal solutions should strike the balance between the confronted interests and values: on one side, between the need for protection of legal certainty and the need for quick and efficient recognition before the law for a great number of “legally invisible” persons, and on the other side, between the need for respecting the competence of the bodies administering the registry books and the need for providing a court mechanism for protection of human rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

Responding to Praxis’ comment, Milan Markovic, the Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, said that this issue should be regulated in a separate law and that it was not within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government.

Taking into consideration that the public debate on the Draft Law on Registry Books was open during April, Praxis also addressed the Ministry by sending its comments on the Draft Law. In its written reply to Praxis, Ministry stated that the solutions offered in the Draft Law were based entirely on basic constitutional principles and that it prescribed the adoption of by-laws that would closely regulate the aforementioned issues as well, and ensure enforcement of the Law in practice, in a way which would enable the unimpeded enjoyment of right to register into birth registry books. 

We can only conclude that the existing Law provides the same solutions, but unfortunately no by-laws have been adopted which would help solving the problem of “legally invisible” persons, nor has much been done in regards to provision of unimpeded enjoyment of right to register into birth registry books of persons who had not done so within the legally prescribed deadline. The aforementioned only goes to show that the state has not expressed any willingness to solve the problem of "legally invisible" persons. 

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Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action