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Wednesday, 5 February 2014

The Chain of Legal Invisibility Broken after Five Years

The decision of the Basic Court in Novi Sad as of December 2013 determined the date and place of birth for three legally invisible Roma, two brothers and a sister. At the end of January 2014, the competent registrar registered the fact of birth for two of them. At the same time, the fact of the Serbian citizenship, which they acquired as persons born in Serbia whose one parent was the citizen of Serbia at the moment of their birth, was also registered to them. The procedure of determination of the date and place of their birth lasted for four months, and one month after the adoption of decision of non-contentious procedure they obtained birth and citizenship certificates. The third brother has not been registered in birth registry book because the competent registrar has not yet received the court decision.

Prior to initiation of the procedure of determining the date and place of birth, these persons were trying for more than five years to get registered in the birth registry book according to the rules of an administrative procedure. In subsequent birth registration procedure, the first-instance and second-instance administration bodies reached seven negative decisions for each submitter of request. Due to biased acting of the first-instance body, the court procedure for protection against discrimination was conducted and final judgment was passed, and it was determined that those persons were discriminated against in the procedures of subsequent birth registration for belonging to Roma national minority. Two administrative disputes were initiated in each procedure, and complaints were filed twice with the Ombudsperson. Besides conducting all stated procedures, two persons managed to exercise the right to birth and citizenship registration only after a non-contentious procedure of determining the date and place of birth was prescribed.

Upon the successful completion of the procedure of determination of date and place of birth, the persons who were legally invisible were forced to initiate the procedure for acquisition of citizenship, since competent registry offices most often register only the fact of birth. The fact of citizenship is not registered even in indisputable cases of children born in Serbia to parents who are the citizens of Serbia. Therefore, the acting of the competent registrars was also utterly positive as he registered the fact of citizenship together with the fact of birth.

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