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Monday, 3 October 2016

Praxis at European Migration Network’s Conference: On different examples of managing and identifying statelessness

The European Migration Network (EMN) Hungary organized the 17th National EMN Conference "Different examples of managing and identifying statelessness" in collaboration with the European Network on Statelessness  (ENS). The conference took place in Budapest, on 29 September 2016 in the Ministry of Interior of Hungary.

The primary aim of the one-day international conference was to present and discuss, through a wider perspective, forms of international cooperation developed in the field of statelessness. The conference meeting was divided into three panels: Statelessness determination (definition, reasons), Preventing childhood statelessness and Durable solutions.

Ivanka Kostic, the Executive Director of Praxis was invited by the EMN National Contact Point Hungary focal to speak about main challenges and positive achievements related to the prevention of childhood statelessness. She presented the legislative changes and the improved practices that have helped to both prevent new cases of statelessness and find solutions for persons who have been living without a nationality or proof of nationality for many years. 

Ivanka emphasized that the adoption of the new legislation (Law on Amendments to the Law on Non-Contentious Procedure) improved the child’s right to birth registration. Upon the adoption of the new legislation, in order to sensitize and better acquaint the judiciary and other decision makers at the local level, the Serbian government, with the suport of UNHCR, organized, throughout the country, trainings for judges about the newly adopted court procedure and trainings of registrars, social workers and police officers involved in procedures of birth registration, residence registration and determination of nationality. She shared the good experience in being invited to regularly participate in these trainings, presenting the cases and most frequent obstacles in practice. Ivanka explained that the trainings have contributed to better implementation of the new legal regulations and that the cooperation of the relevant Government institutions, UNHCR and NGO Praxis, as the legal aid provider in the field has been fruitful and has contributed to resolving concrete individual cases, but also harmonizing the practice of relevant bodies. However, she stressed that there is still room for improvement since the bylaws governing the birth registration procedure still prescribe that parents need to possess their personal documents to be able to register the birth of their children. This creates a gap in which undocumented parents still cannot register their children’s birth within the legally prescribed time. Instead, the birth registration procedure of a new-born child is prolonged and lasts several months. During that time, a set of different court and/or administrative procedures needs to be conducted in order for a child to be finally registered. 

Ivanka pointed out that it is crucial for Serbia to amend the by-laws which closely regulate the birth registration, so that neither the legal status of the parents nor their possession of identity documents determines whether their child’s birth can be registered or not. This is the most important, unresolved issue that needs to be addressed in order to prevent childhood statelessness and fully resolve the issue of statelessness in Serbia. 

 

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