Discrimination

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Srbija voz a.d. Employees Discriminated against Refugees and Migrants

The Commissioner for Protection of Equality, acting upon a complaint lodged by Praxis, issued an opinion establishing that the employees of the company Srbija voz a.d. discriminated against the unaccompanied minors at the Belgrade Central Railway Station on several occasions during March and April 2017.

In fact, at least on two occasions the unaccompanied minors from Afghanistan were hindered or prevented from getting on the trains for Šid, despite the fact that they were in possession of regularly purchased and valid tickets. Discriminatory treatment consisted of imposing special conditions for getting on the train, such as insisting that refugees and migrants could use only one departure for Šid daily and that minors could not be transported by train unless accompanied by adults. Among other things, some Srbija voz employees also stated that "they were fed up with refugees who were in large numbers in Šid", "that they were not allowed to get on the train at the stations in Novi Beograd and Zemun either", that they must be "clean and tidy" and "that it had been said that the tickets for Šid could be purchased only for the train departing at 10:55 a.m.". The Commissioner for Protection of Equality established that such treatment was not justified and that it was directly related to the personal characteristic of these individuals, which led to direct discrimination in the field of public services and constituted a violation of Article 6, in conjunction with Article 17 of the Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination. Therefore, the company Srbija voz a.d. Beograd was recommended to inform the employees who performed the activities of passenger transport about the Instructions on Migrant Transport Procedures, and to ensure that in performing its regular operations and activities, the company did not violate the legal regulations on the prohibition of discrimination.

The analysis of the Commissioner for Protection of Equality dealt only with unaccompanied minors, although the complaint included the same evidence demonstrating that adult migrants, refugees and asylum seekers had also been exposed to such discriminatory treatment. However, the Commissioner assessed that the submitted evidence did not prove it.

The Commissioner for Protection of Equality failed to act on allegations presented in the complaint, according to which the treatment of Srbija voz a.d. employees constituted a serious form of discrimination under Article 13, paragraph 6 of the Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination, taking into account that it was repeated discrimination. Although the Commissioner for Protection of Equality stated in her opinion that the imposition of the condition for unaccompanied minors to be "clean and tidy" constituted a violation of the dignity of these persons, which created a humiliating and offensive environment, it was not clearly established that Article 12 of the Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination, which prohibits such conduct, had been violated.

Srbija voz a.d. informed the Commissioner for Protection of Equality that it had complied with her recommendation.

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Praxis means action
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