Social & Economic rights

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Praxis Published the Report “No Residence, No Rights”

In December 2012, non-governmental organization Praxis published the report “No Residence, No Rights”, as part of the project financed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) based on data collected during the period from September 2009 to November 2012, along with the provision of legal assistance to members of marginalised groups in the procedures of registration or change of permanent or temporary residence in Serbia. Since in November 2011 the Republic of Serbia adopted a new Law on Permanent and Temporary Residence, one of the objectives of this report was also the analysis of the implementation of this new Law, with special emphasis on the provisions that should allow the registration of permanent residence to members of marginalised groups.

Permanent residence implies the closest territorial connection between an individual and a legal system - a place where a person has willingly created the closest ties, which is the centre of his or her life relations, in which he or she has started a family, got employed, set up a home... Recognising the importance of the individual's connection with the place of his or her life activities and assuming that every citizen has a permanent residence in some place, i.e. only one place in the country, the legislator tied a number of important aspects of its citizens' lives to that place.  

The concept of permanent residence in the legislation of the Republic of Serbia is based on two elements: objective (settlement and residence or factual presence in one place) and subjective (intention of residing permanently in that place). However, in order for these constituent elements to lead to the situation that, in the place where a person lives, he or she can apply to health insurance, exercise the right to social protection if he or she is in the state of need or access any rights whose exercise is related to the place of permanent residence, the factual presence in one place and the intention of residing permanently in that place are not enough. The existence of these required constituent elements of domicile must be accompanied by the registration in the records of the competent authorities, and the condition for this is the previous approval of request for registration of permanent residence. The difficulties that arise when certain categories of the population of Serbia submit a request for registration of permanent residence have been leading for decades to a phenomenon that may be called domicilelessness. These difficulties mainly arise from the fact that some people, mainly Roma from informal settlements, cannot document ownership or housing on other basis. The registration of permanent residence is the obligation of every citizen and the requirement to be met in order to obtain an identity card. The possession of ID card is a prerequisite for access to almost every right and a legal obligation of every person over 16 years of age. Without an identity card and registered permanent residence, the basic rights remain inaccessible even to those individuals who are nationals of Serbia.

Through the examples from practice, the report provided a clear insight into what impact may permanent residence have on the lives of individuals and why it is difficult for many people to access the rights that should belong to them in the country of which they are nationals. Apart from denied or hindered access to economic and social rights, the described obstacles in the procedures of registering or changing permanent residence inevitably entail the denial of the right to freedom of movement and choice of residence.

Download the report: No Residence, No Rights




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