Discrimination

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Internally Displaced Persons in Kraljevo Allowed Access to In Vitro Fertilisation

At the meeting held in late September 2016, the Kraljevo City Assembly adopted a decision on the compensation of the costs of in vitro fertilisation, specifying the conditions, criteria and procedure for exercising the right to the compensation of the costs of in vitro fertilisation. The text of this decision indicates the intention of establishing the scope of rights wider than the rights arising from mandatory health insurance, with the aim of including as many couples as possible in the procedure of in vitro fertilisation. Nevertheless, the decision envisages that a couple may exercise this right only if they have had permanent residence in the territory of the City of Kraljevo for at least three years before submitting a request. This permanent residence criterion excludes the possibility for the internally displaced persons residing in the territory of the City of Kraljevo even longer than three years (nearly 20,000 of them) to have the right to the compensation of the cost of in vitro fertilisation under equal conditions as other citizens.

Although the adoption of the aforementioned decision and the allocation of funds from the local budget for the financial support to the couples who are undergoing infertility treatment by procedures of bio-medically assisted fertilisation is a positive example of funds allocation, the requirement regarding the permanent residence of couples unjustifiably deprives the internally displaced citizens of Kraljevo of the right to the compensation of the costs of in vitro fertilisation thereby violating the principle of equal rights and obligations.

In order to point out that the disputed decision violates the principle of equal rights and obligations, thus contravening non-discrimination regulations, Praxis lodged a complaint with the Commissioner for Protection of Equality. Since the Kraljevo City Assembly altered the disputed decision, thus expressing its willingness to ensure the right to the compensation of the cost of in vitro fertilisation to all citizens under equal conditions, Praxis withdrew the complaint.

However, it is important to point out that by adopting the decisions that substantially improve the position of individuals and groups, as in this case, the principle of equity can be violated, regardless of the decision-makers’ intention. They must pay special attention to this, particularly taking into account the situation of vulnerable individuals and groups such as internally displaced persons.

On the other hand, the adoption of general acts that violate the right to equality of citizens is not a rare phenomenon, and one of the main causes for such a situation is certainly an insufficient knowledge of non-discrimination regulations, as well as a lack of sensitivity among decision-makers at the local level in cases where the basic values, such as the right to equity and equality, should be respected. Therefore, we want to draw attention to the necessity of strengthening the capacity and raising awareness among representatives of local authorities about the concept and forms of discrimination in order to avoid such cases in the future.

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