Praxis Watch

Monday, 7 September 2015

Taxi Association Discriminated against Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants

The Commissioner for Protection of Equality has established that Taxi Association of Serbia acted discriminatory by recommending taxi drivers not to take refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.

Specifically, the president of the Taxi Association of Serbia in his interview for Blic Daily as of 24 March 2015, stated, among others, the following: “Taxi drivers are recommended not to take asylum seekers as they may find themselves in an unpleasant situation. The police which finds asylum seekers in a taxi will temporarily take a taxi away and a court procedure will be initiated. In the procedure, a taxi driver is supposed to prove that he did not know that people in his car were not asylum seekers.”

On that occasion, Praxis filed a complaint to the Commissioner for Protection of Equality stating that denying transportation services to one population group is a discriminatory act, which creates hostile environment and spreads intolerance and xenophobia in society. The recommendation given to taxi drivers is contrary to the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia and a series of provisions of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination, which clearly recognize the refusal to provide a public service as a form of discrimination.  

The Commissioner for Protection of Equality has established that refugees, asylum seekers and migrants were put in an unequal position in regard to use of taxi services on the basis of their personal characteristics, and thus the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination was violated. The Commissioner also recommended that president of the Taxi Association of Serbia should act in a way to contribute that taxi drivers provide transportation services to all passengers under the equal conditions, and take care, within his regular activities, not to violate legal regulations on prohibition of discrimination. 

At the moment when a large number of refugees pass through Serbia running away from the war, the minimum we can do is not to make their struggle for survival more difficult. The increased number of xenophobic statements made by representatives of authorities and newspaper texts contribute to spreading of intolerance in society. Therefore, the opinion of the Commissioner for Protection of Equality sends a clear message that discriminatory statements are unacceptable and that everyone, with no exception, has the right to protection from discrimination.

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