Social & Economic rights

Wednesday, 14 December 2022

Six years to integration

Ahmed Sakić [1] is a returnee upon the readmission agreement from Belgium, from where he was returned to the territory of Kosovo and Metohija with his wife and six children in August 2017. In November of the same year, he moved with his family to a settlement near Mladenovac. Ahmed lives with his family in a household consisting of his parents, as well as his brother with his wife and a child.

Due to the lack of documents, Ahmed Sakić and his wife could not get a job, they could not exercise their right to cash social assistance, or any other institutional support and assistance. Ahmed is occasionally engaged in seasonal jobs, which is an insufficient source of income to ensure the minimum existence of the family, which he would not have succeeded without the solidary support of other household members. After arriving in Mladenovac, the birth of Ahmed's wife was subsequently enrolled in the birth register in 2018, while the birth of their children is still not registered. The children do not attend classes in the nearby elementary school because Ahmed cannot provide them with the minimum conditions for attending classes, but also because of the absence of a proactive role of the school and the absence of help and support from local institutions.

Since his arrival in Mladenovac, Ahmed repeatedly addressed the Police Department in Mladenovac with requests for registration of residence, which this body of the Ministry of the Interior rejected with the explanation that Ahmed did not have the intention to permanently reside there. To examine the validity of the request and the intention to live there permanently, the police conducted field checks, during which Ahmed was found at the address. The evidentiary procedure was also conducted by inviting Ahmed to give statements, in which he stated the facts and circumstances that preceded his arrival in Mladenovac, as well as his current position and the position of his family.

On those occasions, Ahmed stated the reasons for submitting a request for residence registration: "The reason why I am applying at the provided address is that I am always here, and since I came to Serbia I have not gone anywhere, except when I went to Nis to get my identity card but I didn't manage to do anything, because they told me that I didn’t have the right to register in Nis" - said Ahmed.

Despite the indisputable evidence, the Police Department in Mladenovac rejected Ahmed's requests for residence registration, stating that there was no evidence indicating that the basis for submitting the request was to reside there permanently, claiming that Ahmed was trying to abuse rights, making numerous unfounded claims along the way. Also, during the procedure, this body expressed views coming from stereotypes about the members of the Roma national minority, predicting that Ahmed would abuse the residence registration if it were approved. Through such actions, the Police Department in Mladenovac had been discriminating against Ahmed for years, which is why, with the help of Praxis, he filed a complaint for discrimination to the Commissioner for Protection of Equality in early 2022.

Although we cannot claim with certainty, it still seems that the complaint to the Commissioner for Protection of Equality exerted additional pressure and led to a change in the attitude and way of acting of the Police Department in Mladenovac, which, in the repeated procedure for registration of permanent residence determined new circumstances and facts based on which it made a decision to approve the request for registration of permanent residence. Given that Ahmed's request was finally approved after many years, the procedure before the Commissioner was suspended.

Finally, further social exclusion and deprivation of Ahmed and his family, caused by the discriminatory behavior of the Police Department, was stopped. Only by registering his permanent residence did Ahmed become an equal citizen able to access basic rights, the exercise of which is particularly important for members of vulnerable groups. The right to health, education, work, social support, and community assistance are some of the basic rights, and the prerequisite for realizing those rights is to have registered permanent residence and to have an identity card, to which every citizen, without exception, is entitled, and the denial of which directly leads to social isolation.

 

 [1] His real name has been changed to protect his privacy.

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