Social & Economic rights

Monday, 19 September 2011

Call upon Legislative Authorities to Consider Amending Article 85 of the Bill on Civil Procedure

The non-governmental organisations call upon the legislative authorities to consider amending Article 85 of the Bill on Civil Procedure, which prevents the most vulnerable population to have access to court.

More precisely, this Bill envisages that citizens are allowed to take actions in the procedure either personally or through a representative who must be an attorney-at-law. Thus, the most vulnerable citizens of Serbia, who are physically disabled to access the court or lack financial resources to come to the court, will not be able to take these actions if they do not have the money to pay for the services of an attorney-at-law. Paragraph 2 of the said Article directly contradicts the constitutional guarantee that everyone shall have the right to an appeal or other legal remedy against any decision on his rights, obligations or lawful interests.  Given that the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia has not envisaged any restrictions, but has guaranteed that everyone has the right to a legal remedy, the proposed provision according to which an attorney-at-law must represent a party in the procedure, which is a legal remedy, directly violates the right to a legal remedy guaranteed under the Constitution and Article 6 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

In addition, we believe that in a situation where the Law on Free Legal Aid is still being drafted and the working group for drafting this law has not taken yet the final position on the potential providers of free legal aid, Article 85 predetermines that associations of citizens, trade unions, legal clinics at faculties and other potential providers of free legal aid will not be allowed to provide such services.  The result of this will be that the residents of informal settlements, persons with disabilities, internally displaced persons, victims of domestic violence and other categories of socially vulnerable citizens will virtually be left without access to court.
The constitutional provision stipulating that legal assistance shall be provided by legal professionals and legal assistance offices established in the units of local self-government refers to the level of protection of the right to legal assistance guaranteed by the state, and it may not be interpreted as the prohibition to other free legal aid providers to perform this activity. In addition to all the aforementioned, this provision violates Article 20, paragraph 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, according to which the attained level of human and minority rights may not be lowered.

Taken all this into consideration, once again we call upon the competent state authorities to consider amending the aforementioned legal provision, which will, if adopted, prevent the most vulnerable and poorest citizens of Serbia to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to access to court.

The signatory organisations:
1.    Praxis
2.    CUPS (Centre of Advanced Legal Studies)
3.    Regional Center for Minorities
4.    Belgrade Center for Human Rights
5.    Humanitarian Law Center
6.    YUCOM - Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights
7.    Center for Practical Politics
8.    Network of the Committees for Human Rights in Serbia CHRIS
9.    Educational Roma Center
10.    ASTRA
11.    NGO Atina
12.    Civil Rights Defenders
13.    Association of Citizens Power of Friendship – Amity
14.    Novi Sad Humanitarian Center
15.    Sandzak Committee for Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms
16.    Humanitarian Center for Integration and Tolerance
17.    AS - Center for Empowerment of Young People Living with HIV and AIDS
18.    Center for Interactive Pedagogy
19.    SOS hotline for women and children victims of violence
20.    Women for Peace
21.    KIC Pralipe
22.    NEC-RP Kragujevac
23.    Voice of Kosovo and Metohija
24.    Association Help for the Children
25.    Balkan Center for Migration and Humanitarian Activities
26.    HO Bozur
27.    Association Iskra
28.    Society for Development of Children and Youth - Open Club
29.    NGO Panonija
30.    Labris - Organisation for Lesbian Human Rights
31.    Association Sveti Spas
32.    Association against AIDS – JAZAS
33.    Together Together
34.    Local Democracy Centre LDA Nis
35.    Mental Disability Rights Initiative MDRI-S
36.    Autonomous Women's Center
37.    Association of Citizens Nexus
38.    Women in Black
39.    INTEGRA, Kraljevo
40.    Children's Center Small Prince
41.    Ecumenical Humanitarian Organization
42.    Youth Integration Center
43.     Liceulice (Face of the Street)
44.    Group 484
45.    Victimology Society of Serbia
46.    Gay Straight Alliance
47.    Committee for Human Rights Vranje / SOS Hotline Vranje
48.    PAAD Center for Social-Culturological Excellence
49.    Center for Improvement and Promotion of Socially Marginalized Groups New World
50.    Association of Citizens Kula    
51.    Roma Information Center (RIC)
52.    Association of Citizens Ekobecej
53.    NGO School of Peace Kragujevac
54.    Gayten LGBT
55.    Center for Equal Rights
56.    Transparency Serbia
57.    Fund for Open Society
58.    UTLOSS
59.    Committee for Human Rights Leskovac
60.    NGO European Vojvodina
61.    Association Fenomena
62.    Association of Roma Women Osvit, Nis
63.    Association Center for Public Policy Research
64.    SOS Vlasotince
65.    Youth Initiative for Human Rights
66.    PRO BONO
67.    Center for Minority Rights

The initiative is also supported by:

68.    Office of the Protector of Citizens in Subotica
69.    Judges' Association of Serbia
70.    Association of Public Prosecutors and Deputy Public Prosecutors of Serbia
71.    Protector of Citizens




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