Education & Training

Thursday, 21 April 2016

PROACTION: About Migrants and Refugees, Importance of Institutional Cooperation and Protection from Discrimination

Within the project PROACTION - Protection Against Discrimination of Asylum-Seekers and Unaccompanied Child Migrants, implemented with the Group 484, during March and April 2016 we held four round tables on: Experience in reception of migrants and refugees, cooperation of institutions and protection from discrimination. Besides Belgrade, we visited Nis, Pirot and Vranje, and gathered representatives of Misdemeanor Court, Ministry of Interior, City Social Welfare Center, Institute for Children and Youth, NGOs, the Red Cross and international organizations.

We talked about the primary reception of refugees and cooperation with the competent authorities and presented the analysis of decisions of misdemeanor courts on minor offenses proceedings instituted against foreigners, according to the Law on the Protection of the State Border of the Republic of Serbia and the Law on Foreigners, in the period from 1 January 2014 to 31 August 2015.  The main failures in the initiated proceedings are inconsistent court practice, violation of the right to use the mother tongue or languages understood by a foreigner during the proceedings, the lack of awareness and the convicted about the right to appeal against the conviction, the absence of legal aid, inadequate treatment of unaccompanied minors, inadequate training of judges to proceed in cases with an international element, as well as the non-application of international conventions in the field of protection of the rights of refugees and migrants. 

We reminded also of the last year's cases of discrimination against refugees and migrants where we filed complaints to the Commissioner for Protection of Equality. One of them is the case of the President of the Municipality of Kanjiža, Mihalj Bimba, who said at the press conference that "these foreigners do not have the most basic elements of general intelligence and culture," and appealed to the citizens to be ready when he called them to express their dissatisfaction. The Commissioner, on this occasion, found that the statement was discriminatory and issued a press release in which she invited all holders of public office in Serbia to be solidary in the statements on refugees passing through Serbia and to refrain from statements that are arbitrary and intolerant and which may impose unnecessary anxiety among the citizens of Serbia.  

The institutions and providers of public services and the media by their acting significantly affect the attitudes of the general public and therefore their role and responsibilities are the key in the process of creating a safer and more tolerant society. The above stated failures, as well as timely responses to discriminatory practices, suggest that the practice of protection against discrimination, in accordance with social changes, require constant improvement and development, and cooperation and joint action of all stakeholders in this process is of crucial importance. 

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