Social welfare

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Praxis and SKRUG request that the Constitutional Court establish incompliance of the Regulation with the Constitution and the Law on Social Protection

On 3 November 2014, Praxis and the Standing Conference of Roma Associations of Citizens (SKRUG) – League of Roma, an association that gathers 72 civil society organizations, submitted the initiative for assessment of constitutionality and legality of the Regulation on the measures of social inclusion of the beneficiaries of cash social assistance. At the same time, Praxis supported the request of YUCOM, Autonomous Women’s Centre and the Regional Centre for Minorities directed at the Government of the Republic of Serbia to urgently suspend the implementation of the stated Regulation.

To remind, on 15 October 2014 Serbian Government adopted the Regulation on the measures of social inclusion of the beneficiaries of cash social assistance (hereinafter Regulation), which was criticised in public by the civil society organizations for its incompliance with the Constitution and the Law on Social Protection.

Cash social assistance is meant for persons who do not have enough means for living and represents a basic form of financial assistance to socially vulnerable persons. Bearing in mind that the right to social protection, hence the right to cash social assistance, is one of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Thus, it can be limited by a law, and only if that limitation is allowed by the Constitution, for the purposes permitted by the Constitution and in the scope that is necessary for the purpose of the constitutional limitation to be satisfied in a democratic society without going to the heart of the guaranteed right.

However, the right to social protection, i.e. the right to cash social assistance as one form of the social protection rights, is limited by the Regulation, which is a by-law, for the purposes not permitted by the Constitution, by going into the very heart of this right and by enabling a social welfare centre to abolish the very right in case of unjustified failure to meet the obligations stemming from the agreement concluded with the social welfare centre. To conclude, the disputable Regulation conditions the exercise of the right to cash social assistance in a way that is contrary to the relevant constitutional and legal principles.

Some of the envisaged obligations of beneficiaries of cash social assistance include: participation in training on self-efficiency, registration with the chosen medical doctor, volunteering, socially useful work, participation in public works, etc. The obligations stated in some articles of the Regulation are defined as rights of the beneficiaries of cash social assistance by the Law on Social Protection. Thus, according to the provisions of the Law on Social Protection, “an unemployed beneficiary of cash social assistance has the right to assistance in finding employment, right to training, to participation in public works and other rights defined by the regulations related to employment.” Therefore, the beneficiary of cash social assistance has the right to training, right to assistance in finding employment, right to participation in public works. However, the Regulation has converted all the rights to obligations of beneficiaries of cash social assistance, and if the beneficiary does not meet his/her obligations, he/she will lose the right to social protection, that is the right to cash social assistance as one of the social protection rights which is guaranteed by the Constitution.

Prescribing the possibility of reduction or even suspension of the right to cash social assistance, depending on participation in the above-mentioned activities, does not acknowledge the human dignity of the beneficiaries of cash social assistance and, thus, the Regulation is contrary to the Constitution and the Law on Social Protection.

Download: Regulation on the measures of social inclusion of the beneficiaries of cash social assistance
Download: Initiative for assessment of constitutionality and legality of the Regulation on the measures of social inclusion of the beneficiaries of cash social assistance
Download: Request of non-governmental organizations  to the Government of the Republic of Serbia for suspension of the Regulation

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