Praxis Watch

Monday, 27 December 2021

When the Social Welfare Centre Refuses to Determine the Child's Personal Name

Ronaldo [1] was born in December 2020 in Belgrade, at the Clinical Centre of Serbia. Ronaldo’s mother Bukurije Osmani [1] is not registered into birth registry books. She was born in Podujevo and moved to Belgrade where she entered cohabitation. The Free Legal Aid Service of Zemun Municipality in April 2021 initiated, on behalf of Bukurije, a procedure before the Third Basic Court in Belgrade for determining the date and place of her birth. This procedure is still ongoing.

Since Bukurije is undocumented, Ronaldo’s personal name could not be determined by his parents before the registrar. A procedure for determining the child's personal name was initiated before the Social Welfare Centre (SWC) Zemun in late January 2021.

Since a decision was not issued within the legal deadline, an urgency letter was sent to the competent authority in late April. However, the Social Welfare Centre Zemun continued not taking any action in this procedure, and the Ronaldo’s father went to the SWC towards the end of May to get the information about the status of the case. On that occasion, he was told that they had been waiting for the lawyer’s opinion, but that most likely it would not be possible to conduct the procedure until the mother obtained an ID card. In mid-July, the father went to the SWC again, where it was confirmed to him that the procedure would not be conducted until the mother received her ID card.

The instruction of the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, sent to the social welfare centres in 2014, stressed that the right to personal name was guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Constitution and the Law on Family, and that personal name must be determined also to children of undocumented parents. The instruction specifies that even in such situations, parents must be allowed to participate in the procedure if their identity can be guaranteed by a third party with a personal document or if they are personally known to an official.

In July 2021, an appeal was filed for failing to issue a decision within the legal deadline. However, the second instance body - the Ministry of Family Welfare and Demography also significantly exceeded the prescribed deadline and a decision on the appeal is still pending, although it had to decide within two months of receiving the appeal.

Such actions of the Social Welfare Centre violate the right to registration in birth registry books and the right to personal name of the children of undocumented parents, also depriving them of many other rights that cannot be exercised without birth certificates, including the right to health care and social protection.


[1] These are not their real names

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