Social & Economic rights

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Non-Governmental Organisations Request the Government of the Republic of Serbia to Urgently Suspend the Implementation of the Decree on Measures of Social Inclusion of Beneficiaries of Cash Social Assistance

The Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights, the Autonomous Women's Centre and the Regional Center for Minorities have submitted to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Serbia the Initiative for Assessing the Constitutionality of the Decree on Measures of Social Inclusion of Beneficiaries of Cash Social Assistance.

Certain articles of this Decree contravene the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, the Law on Social Protection, as well as the provisions of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the provisions of the Revised European Social Charter.

Believing that the implementation of the Decree will lead to a deeply unfair, illegal and discriminatory treatment of the most vulnerable and poorest citizens, the undersigned organisations demand that the disputed articles* of the Decree be abolished and that its full implementation be suspended until a decision is rendered by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Serbia.

Poverty is not a choice of any citizen, nor is it a consequence of someone's laziness, but reflects the inability of the state to provide equal opportunities for all its citizens. By adopting the disputed Decree, the state has shown a clear lack of understanding of the purpose and essence of the concept of social inclusion. Instead of actively contributing to improving the quality of life of poor people through affirmative action, the state, through the provisions of this Decree, further punishes them, threatening to deny the right to already insufficient social assistance. The implementation of the Decree will cause discriminatory treatment of the poorest, since it does not affect any other category of working age population. Since, under current laws, community service is recognised only in criminal law, it seems that the poorest need to be given some kind of punishment/sanction for being poor.

The organisations believe that the Decree is deeply unfair because it targets those who have the least power in society: families with many children, single mothers, the unemployed without property, the elderly and persons with disability, Roma and others. The Decree places all these categories of population in a disadvantaged position, even compared to persons sentenced to imprisonment, who have employment rights (right to remuneration and reward, right to protection at work and rest) for their work while in prison.

Above all, working age beneficiaries of cash social assistance, because of their poverty, will not be able to protect their rights in the event of discrimination, labour exploitation or other violations of rights resulting from the application of this Decree.

Therefore, the undersigned civil society organisations appeal to the Government of the Republic of Serbia to repeal the Decree or to postpone its implementation until the Constitutional Court's final decision on the assessment of constitutionality and legality.

* Article 2, paragraph 2, point 5, Article 4, paragraph 1, point 1, Article 9, paragraph 1, point 3 

The request is supported by:

1.Praxis, Belgrade

2.Reconstruction Women's Fund, Belgrade

3.Voice of Difference, Belgrade

4.Women in Black, Belgrade

5.Labris, Belgrade

6.Association of Roma Novi Bečej

7.Women of South, Pirot

8.SOS Women's Center, Novi Sad

9.Women's Support Centre, Kikinda

10....Iz kruga – Vojvodina

11.Roma Information Centre, Kragujevac

12.Cultural Center DamaD, Novi Pazar

13.Centre Living Upright, Novi Sad

14.Centre for Girls - Niš

15.Women’s Space, Niš 

16.ASTRA, Belgrade

17.Women's Forum, Prijepolje

18.Association of Women Sandglass, Kruševac

19.Gender Equality Institute, Novi Sad

20.Centre for Youth Integration, Belgrade 

21.Alternative Centre for Girls, Kruševac

22.Association of Roma Women Osvit, Niš

23.Victimology Society of Serbia

24.CHRIS - Network of the Committees for Human Rights in Serbia

25.Sandžak Committee for the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms, Novi Pazar

26.SOS Hotline for Women and Children Victims of Violence, Vlasotince

27.Citizen Association Together Together, Belgrade

28.Committee for Human Rights - SOS Hotline Vranje

29....Iz kruga – Belgrade

30.Association Požega, Požega

31.Association of Refugees from the Republic of Croatia

32.Women's Peace Group, Pančevo

33.Roma Children's Centre, Belgrade

34.Centre for Margin, Belgrade

35.Women’s Studies Centre, Belgrade

36.ALTERO - Association for Personal Training, Education, Development and Empowerment

37.Women's Centre, Užice

38.Women's European Lobby Network Serbia

39.European Anti-Poverty Network -  Serbia

40.Public Policy Research Center, Belgrade

41.MODS - Network of Organisations for Children of Serbia

42.Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies, Belgrade

43.Humanitarian Law Centre, Belgrade

44.Urban-In, Novi Pazar

45.Sandžak Committee for Human Rights, Novi Pazar

46.Safe Pulse of Youth - SPY, Belgrade

47. Children Center Little Prince, Belgrade

48.Trag Foundation, Belgrade

49.Democratic Transition Initiative, Belgrade

50.Roma Youth Centre, Požega

51.Youth Forum for Education of Roma, Bujanovac 

52.Victimology Society of Serbia, Belgrade

53.Civil Society Development Centre, Belgrade

54.Initiative for Inclusion VelikiMali, Pančevo

55.Centre for Development of Civil Resources, Niš

56.YUROM Centre, Niš

57.Centre for Independent Living of PWD of Serbia, Belgrade  

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