Social & Economic rights

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Legally Invisible Persons – How to Solve this Problem?

…Profound understanding of rights, especially profound understanding of right to be recognized as person before the law, leads us to the conclusion that it is necessary to do something, to undertake some reform in our legal system…

OSCE Mission to Serbia, UNHCR Serbia and NGO Praxis organized the roundtable “Subsequent Registration into Birth Registry Books” on 12th December 2007 in Belgrade. The roundtable brought together the representatives of the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and municipal administration bodies (administering the registry books dislocated from Kosovo) of the Republic of Serbia, as well as the representatives of non-governmental and international organizations in the region.

The roundtable was organized with the aim to point out the problems in practice in relation to conducting the procedures of subsequent registration into birth registry books of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Serbia, and to present the solutions and good practice of other countries through comparative legal analysis, as well as to define recommendations for solving this problem in Serbia.

Praxis pointed out the obstacles IDPs in Serbia are facing in practice, in particular Roma population, in conducting the procedures of subsequent registration into birth registry books. A significant number of Roma live without personal documents, they are legally invisible and prevented from exercising their basic human rights, such as the right to health care, social welfare, education, labour, etc. Even though the country has positive obligation to recognize every human being as legal subject, as stipulated in the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia and various international documents which Serbia ratified (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, etc), the country sometimes cannot ensure the full realization of these rights to a certain number of citizens.

Praxis suggested that the issue of subsequent registration should be normatively regulated by adopting a new law or by amending the existing relevant laws. The enhancement of institutional capacities of the competent municipal administration bodies should also be supported. Praxis emphasised that only through cooperation between competent ministries, as well as networking of both governmental and non-governmental sector could a constructive and effective solution to this problem be reached.

Centre for Advanced Legal Studies from Belgrade said that Serbia was one of the countries which did not have separate laws regulating the category of legally invisible persons. The Centre stated: “We can use law as an excuse; we can say that we act in accordance with the given legal regime, but we should not say that we cannot change that legal regime or that it cannot be more effective, if it is ineffective like ours. Therefore, profound understanding of rights, especially profound understanding of right to legal subjectivity, leads us to the conclusion that it is necessary to do something, to undertake some reform in our legal system, in order to resolve the issue. Comparative legal experience confirms that it is possible. We lawyers are here to solve that problem.”

The participants of the roundtable also had the opportunity to become fully acquainted with the experience of countries in the region (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro) regarding this matter.

At the end it was concluded that, in order to reach a solution to this problem, it is necessary to legally regulate the issue of subsequent registration into registry books of persons who are legally invisible, as well as to increase financial capacities and human resources of the municipal administration bodies in order to enable these persons to effectively exercise their basic human rights.

Praxis will continue to advocate for solution to this problem, jointly with Centre for Advanced Legal Studies, UNHCR, OSCE and other relevant organizations, with the aim to establish effective legal system in this field.

 

Download: Subsequent Registration in Member States of the International Commission on Civil Status


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