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Praxis submitted Comments on UNMIK's Protection of ICCPR-guaranteed Rights in Relation to Certain Aspects of Private Immovable Property Claims Resolution in Kosovo to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

 

Download: Comments on UNMIK's Protection of ICCPR-guaranteed Rights

 

 

 

Praxis submitted Recommendations to OHCHR Belgrade on the occasion of adopting Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee on Kosovo

Related to PROPERTY (Section 18 of the Concluding Observations)

  • UNMIK, in cooperation with PISG, should establish effective legal remedies for challenging the final decisions of the Housing and Property Commission, and it should ensure and facilitate displaced persons’ access to the remedies.
  • UNMIK, in cooperation with PISG, should consider establishing new, clear and credible arrangements in respect to resolution of private immovable property claims (currently conducted by Kosovo Property Agency). In the meantime, it should ensure effective access of displaced persons to the existing mechanism.
  • UNMIK, in cooperation with PISG, should ensure prompt and effective regaining of possession over owned property, in particular in cases of re-possession requested by displaced persons and members of minority communities.
  • UNMIK, in cooperation with PISG, should ensure prompt registration of civil suits filed before the courts in Kosovo and immediate provision of due registration notices to the interested persons, in accordance with the principle of non-discrimination.


Related to DOCUMENTS

  • UNMIK, in cooperation with PISG, should ensure that administrative and judicial bodies in Kosovo recognize and accept documents duly issued and/or verified by Serbian authorities, in particularly those required for conduct of inheritance procedures in Kosovo.
  • UNMIK, in cooperation with PISG and KFOR, should ensure unimpeded and effective access to available documentary archives of Kosovo courts, companies and institutions containing personal and other files related to, inter alia, property, education, employment and pension, in accordance with the principle of non-discrimination.


Related to LANGUAGE (Section 22)

  • UNMIK should ensure that PISG respect the right of minority communities that all official documents are promptly and properly translated into their language. In particular, it should ensure that the documents relevant for effective participation in court procedures (court minutes etc.) should be issued translated within a reasonable time.

 

Download: Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee

 

 

 

 

 

UNHCR and its legal and other implementation and operational partner, Praxis, Balkan Centre for Migration, Centre for Minority Rights, OSCE, MPDL and HCIT formed a Focus Group on IDP Documentation with the overall aim to achieve systemic changes in the field of IDPs’ access to documentation, through strong advocacy.

At the first meeting of the Focus Group that was held in May, the Group agreed to come up with a set of detailed suggestions to amendments of law(s) and procedures to address IDP's problems in accessing documents. For that purpose, the Group invited a consultant - legal expert from the Centre for Advanced Legal Studies, to discuss drafting of a new law that would regulate this issue. Focus Group intends to engage local legal experts and practitioners who would analyze the existing legislation and make specific recommendations to legislative amendments in order to simplify the access to documentation and civil registration of IDPs into registry books dislocated from Kosovo.

As a part of its advocacy campaign, in July 2007 the Focus Group held a meeting with the Assistant Minister for Public Administration and Local Self-Government, with the aim to present to the Ministry Focus Group’s initiative for removing obstacles to IDPs’ access to documents and to seek the Ministry’s initial support to the activity. Members of Focus Group agreed with the Assistant Minister to share its analysis and specific recommendations with the Ministry for further discussion and action. However, it has been stressed at the meeting that the solution to the problems of IDPs related to access to documents and, more specifically, determining the fact of birth and subsequent registration is not only within the jurisdiction of the Ministry for Public Administration and Local Self-Government, but also within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior.

More such meetings will continue with other stakeholders in the Government including the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As part of its activities within the Focus Group on IDP Documentation, UNHCR, Praxis and Balkan Centre for Migrations met with the representatives of the Ministry of Interior (MoI) of the Republic of Serbia on 11th October 2007. The aim of the meeting was to introduce the representatives of the Ministry with the initiative of the Focus Group to ease access to personal documents for internally displaced persons in Serbia. Focus Group presented its activities related to drafting of legislative amendments in order to achieve systemic changes in the field of IDPs access to documentation. Praxis had previously prepared a handout illustrating everyday problems IDPs face in obtaining documents, and shared it with the representatives of the Ministry. The Group also announced the organization of the Round Table on Subsequent Registration that is due to take place in early December. Project on Automation of Dislocated Registry Offices, funded by the Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migrations of the US Department of State, which is being undertaken in the municipalities of Kragujevac and Krusevac (administering the dislocated registry books from Kosovo), was also presented to the Ministry. There are plans to implement the same project in the Municipality of Kraljevo next year.

Ms Zorica Kasalica-Loncar, Head of the Administrative Department of MoI, expressed satisfaction with the cooperation between the Administrative Department and UNHCR. Ms Kasalica-Loncar also praised the Project on Automation of Dislocated Registry Books, which significantly reduced the backlog and eased the process of obtaining documents from the two dislocated registry offices. She also showed great interest in the work of the Focus Group. As she stated, the Ministry has a clear interest in providing documents to all citizens of the Republic of Serbia, but she emphasized the need for raising awareness among vulnerable categories, especially Roma population, on importance of possessing personal documents. Ms Kasalica-Loncar informed the participants on the new Law on Temporary and Permanent Residence, which is currently being drafted, and expressed interest in receiving suggestions of the Group. In addition, the Ministry of Interior accepted to participate at the aforementioned Round Table on Subsequent Registration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), in cooperation with the Internally Displaced Persons’ Associations UNIJA, organized a roundtable in Kopaonik in the period from 17 to 19 September 2008. Representatives of state institutions, non-governmental and international organizations in Serbia and Kosovo, dealing with the issues of internally displaced persons (IDPs), participated in the roundtable, in order to comprehensively examine the situation and position of IDPs in Serbia.

The roundtable was organized as part of the project “Support to Refugee/IDP Return through Legal Aid”, within which Praxis is conducting a research on IDPs situation in the society and their access to justice, social, economic and property rights.

The work at the roundtable was conducted in working groups, divided according to the topics discussed – access to documents in Serbia, access to documents in Kosovo, property rights in Kosovo, employment, education, health care and social welfare. The aim was to examine certain aspects of the issue, both from the standpoint of state bodies and institutions, on one side, and non-governmental and international organizations on the other, in order to jointly reach a solution and make recommendations for removing administrative and systemic obstacles in accessing certain rights.

See the news from the OSCE web site.

Download (Serbian only):  OSCE Agenda

 

 

 

 

 

 

In November 2008, UNHCR Serbia, OSCE Mission to Serbia and the Centre for Advanced Legal Studies, together with the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights of the Republic of Serbia, organized three roundtables in Nis, Novi Sad and Belgrade, at which the Model Law on the Procedure for Recognition of Persons before the Law was presented to professional public dealing with the issue of legally invisible persons every day. The roundtables were dedicated to analysis of the problems the legally invisible persons face, as well as the suggestions for solving them on the grounds of modern legal tools. They gathered representatives of numerous non-governmental and international organizations, representatives of judiciary and police, registrars who work on the subsequent registration cases, etc, who, through a public debate, gave their contribution to finding the best solution for the problems of legally invisible persons.

Praxis participated in all three roundtables and presented the problems related to conducting procedures of subsequent registration into registry books in practice and exercising the right to recognition before the law. Praxis also presented its publication “Legally Invisible Persons in Seven Stories – Why should the Law on the Procedure for Recognition of Persons before the Law be adopted”, which illustrates everyday problems of legally invisible persons and which was made to support the adoption of the Model Law.

Further lobbying for the Model Law on the Procedure for Recognition of Persons before the Law will continue, with the great support from the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights who took active part in this advocacy campaign, with the final aim to table the Model Law before the Government of the Republic of Serbia for adoption.

 

Download (Serbian only): The Model Law on the Procedure for Recognition of Persons before the Law

Download: Legally Invisible Persons in Seven Stories

 

 

 

 

 

 

On 15 May 2009, Mikijelj, Jankovic & Bogdanovic Law Office, Belgrade Centre for Human Rights and Praxis have launched the Initiative for Constitutional Review of the Article 85, Paragraph 1 of the Law on Constitutional Court to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Serbia.

The Initiative points to the fact that the aforementioned provision of the Law is unconstitutional in the part prescribing that a constitutional appeal must contain citizens’ identification number. Thus, the right to constitutional appeal, right to judicial protection against violation of human and minority rights and the right to equal protection of rights, as well as the constitutional prohibition of discrimination are unconstitutionally restricted.

At the session held on September 10, 2009, the Constitutional Court delivered the Initiative for Constitutional Review of the Article 85, Paragraph 1 of the Law on Constitutional Court to the National Assembly for opinion.

At the 11th Regular Session of the Constitutional Court, held on 18th March 2010, in the case of constitutional review of laws and other regulations of the Republic bodies, the Constitutional Court did not accept the Initiative for Constitutional Review of the Article 85, Paragraph 1 of the Law on Constitutional Court ("Official Gazette of RS" No. 109/07), launched by Mikijelj, Jankovic & Bogdanovic Law Office, Belgrade Centre for Human Rights and Praxis. The Constitutional Court estimated that prescribing the data about citizen’s identification number as a compulsory element of the content of a constitutional appeal is based on the provision of Article 175 of the Constitution, according to which a procedure before the Constitutional Court is regulated by law, and that it does not violate the principles of prohibition of discrimination from Article 21 of the Constitution and rights to equal protection of rights and legal remedies provided by the provisions of the Article 36 of the Constitution, since the prescribed provision refers to all citizens of the Republic of Serbia who, with regard to the provisions of Law on Citizen’s Identification Number and Law on ID Card, have citizen’s identification number. However, it does not restrict or condition the right to launching a constitutional appeal to persons who do not have this identification mark because they are not included in the aforementioned obligation prescribed by laws of the Republic of Serbia (case IUz-106/09).

 

Download (Serbian only): Initiative

Download (Serbian only): Decision of the Constitutional Court

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the support of UNHCR and UNDP, on 10 December 2009, at the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, a joint session of the Poverty Reduction Committee, the Committee for Labour, Veterans and Social Affairs and the Committee  for International Relations was held in form of a public hearing on the issue of “Statelessness and Poverty in Serbia“. Within the introduction, the participants were addressed by: Ms. Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic, Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr. Eduardo Arboleda, UNHCR Representative in Serbia, Mr. Sasa Gajin, representative of the Center for Advanced Legal Studies and Ms. Ivanka Kostic, Executive Director of Praxis.

At the beginning of the joint session the participants were addressed by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Prof. Dr Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic. In her statement, the Speaker emphasized that the problem of statelessness was usually mentioned as part of the access to human and minority rights issue. She stressed that today’s gathering demonstrated the determination of the National Assembly to address this problem in an all-inclusive manner. Statistics show that at least 17,000 persons in Serbia have no citizenship, the majority being the “legally invisible” persons of Roma nationality who live on the social margins and face problems in exercising their civil rights. The Constitution of the Republic of Serbia guarantees access to human rights, as well as the right to legal person. The National Assembly ratified many international and regional agreements within the field of human rights, passed the Law on National Minority Councils and the Law against Discrimination, all indicating a determination in seeking a systemic solution for the problem of statelessness. She presented the advocacy activities conducted by international agencies and non-governmental organizations for the adoption of the Law on the Procedure for Recognition of Persons before the Law and invited all members of the Assembly and members of the executive authorities to jointly find a systemic solution for the “legally invisible” persons. The Speaker expressed her gratitude to the international organizations for the expert support that they provide to the institutions in Serbia and emphasized that the National Assembly would do all within its power for these persons to access their rights.


The UNHCR Representative in Serbia, Mr. Eduardo Arboleda suggested simple and concrete measures which could be implemented by the Assembly with the aim of preventing statelessness and poverty. First of all, he stressed the importance of the signing of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the importance of the legislative amendments which would create mechanisms for an easier identification of stateless persons and the reduction of statelessness, emphasising the positive experience of other countries. He also invited members of the Assembly and members of the executive authority to support the systemic changes by adopting the suggested Law on the Procedure for Recognition of Persons before the Law and the new Law on Permanent and Temporary Residence. Finally, UNHCR activities in Serbia were presented, as well as a film which was made during the implementation of the Project “Social Inclusion and Access to Human Rights for Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian Communities in the Western Balkans”.

The Chairman of the International Relations Committee, Mr. Miletic Mihajlovic, said that statelessness also presented a problem for the access to rights of national minorities and expressed the Committee’s full support in resolving this issue.


The Chairman of the Committee for Labour, Veterans and Social Affairs, Mr. Meho Omerovic, stated that the Committee would, within its authority and through the competent Ministry, work on amending the current laws, in order to achieve bearable living conditions for such persons. He announced that a new Law on Social Protection would be passed, which would define provision of urgent response measures to stateless persons until they acquire citizenship, enabling them to exercise other measures of protection provided by the state. 


Ms. Ivanka Kostic, Executive Director of Praxis and Mr. Sasa Gajin from the Center for Advanced Legal Studies made a brief presentation of the problems encountered in practice, activities of the non-governmental sector, suggested solutions in the Model Law on the Procedure for Recognition of Persons before the Law and current attempts to draw attention of the competent ministries to the problem of the “legally invisible” persons.  They expressed their concern regarding the absence of the representatives of the Ministry for Public Administration and Local Self-Government, who persistently evade attending meetings aimed at finding solutions for problems faced by the persons who are not recognized before the law.


Apart from the representatives of the Assembly, the public hearing was attended by representatives of the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Office of the National Security Council, the non-governmental sector and international organizations. During the discussion it was emphasized that there were no adequate mechanisms for protection of persons without citizenship, especially mechanisms for their identification, that statelessness was related to problems of poverty and crime, which could be issues of national and regional security, and that the problem should be solved proactively and not repressively. The issues of readmission and visa liberalization were also discussed in relation to statelessness, as well as the cooperation of the non-governmental sector, international organizations and competent ministries. 


At the end of the discussion, the Chairman of the Poverty Reduction Committee, Ms. Snezana Stojanovic-Plavsic summed up the results of the discussion and concluded that all of the participants agreed that there were no political and legal obstacles for the adoption of the Law on the Procedure for Recognition of Persons before the Law which would systemically solve this problem, and assessed that partnership of all actors is of great importance in the process of adopting such an important law.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Praxis launched an Initiative for Legislative Review of the Article 6, Paragraph 11 of the Rules of Procedure for Exercising Right from Obligatory Health Insurance before the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Serbia. The Initiative points to the fact that the aforementioned provision of the Rules of Procedure is contrary to the Law on Health Insurance.

Namely, the Article 22 of the Law on Health Insurance explicitly states that persons of Roma ethnicity who due to their traditional way of life, do not have permanent/temporary residence, may be beneficiaries of health care. There is no doubt that the legislator intended to ensure access of this category of persons to health care. This regulation of the Law may also, without a doubt, be applied to Roma IDPs who do not have permanent/ temporary residence.

On the other hand, Article 6 of the Rules of Procedure, however, derogates the application of this legal rule by stating that the insured must provide a personal statement that he/she is a person of Roma ethnicity, as well as his/her registration of temporary residence. In this way, persons who do not have their residence registered, for instance due to the fact that they live in an illegal Roma settlement - which is often the case with Roma IDPs - are actually deprived of the rights from health insurance, and exercise of the legal right to using health care services.

In its reply dated 18th March 2010, Constitutional Court informed Praxis that the aforementioned Rules of Procedure were no longer in force as of 10th March 2010 on the grounds of provision of Article 152 of the new Rules of Procedure for Exercising Right from Obligatory Health Insurance, adopted by the Administrative Board of the Republic Institute for Health Insurance on 11th December 2009. On that occasion, the Constitutional Court invited Praxis to inform them whether the Initiative was still in force and whether Praxis would change it in accordance with changed circumstances.

Therefore, Praxis changed the Initiative (Submission) in accordance with the new Rules of Procedure which, in fact, took over the same solution in relation to disputable Article 6, but it is mentioned in the new Rules of Procedure in Article 7.

 

Download (Serbian only): Initiative for Legislative Review of the Article 6, Paragraph 11 of the Rules of Procedure for Exercising Right from Obligatory Health Insurance

Download (Serbian only): Rules of Procedure

Download: Submission

               

 

 

 

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