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Thursday, 31 May 2018

Kraljevo Announced its Willingness to Change Discriminatory Decisions

In the past period, the Kraljevo City Assembly adopted several decisions whose implementation should improve the situation of vulnerable social groups or individuals, but by imposing the condition of permanent residence for exercising the rights established by the said decisions, it excluded the possibility for the internally displaced persons residing in the territory of the City of Kraljevo since 1999 to exercise the rights under the same conditions as their fellow citizens.

Thus, the Decision on Free Bus Transportation in the City of Kraljevo was adopted to ensure access to public services (free bus transportation) to persons who, due to their health or social status, encountered obstacles or were denied such access. On the other hand, the Decision on the Right to One-off Financial Assistance for the First-born Child and the Decision on Financial Assistance to Unemployed New Mothers aim to encourage procreation and increase birth rate, as well as to provide support to women who decide to have children despite being unemployed.

Despite the apparent intention of the decision-makers to allocate budget funds for improving the situation of the most vulnerable citizens, but also for improving the city’s demographic structure, by setting the permanent residence requirement, they unjustifiably denied the right to all the refugees and internally displaced persons residing in the City of Kraljevo. Undoubtedly, there is no reasonable and objective justification for such a different treatment.

In order to point out that the disputed decisions violate the principle of equal rights and obligations, thus contravening non-discrimination regulations, Praxis lodged complaints with the Commissioner for Protection of Equality. Consequently, responding to the allegations of the complaints, the President of the Kraljevo City Assembly accepted the objections and expressed the readiness to alter the disputed decisions aligning them with anti-discriminatory regulations, which was also the reason why Praxis gave up the further complaints procedure.

Since the disputed decisions have not been altered and discriminatory requirements have not been changed yet as to allow all citizens to exercise the right under the same conditions, and given that the withdrawal of the complaints is based on the expressed intention of the representatives of the City of Kraljevo to implement the procedures for changing the decisions, Praxis will continue to monitor the actions of the City of Kraljevo in the coming period regarding the alignment of the disputed decisions with anti-discrimination regulations. 

Despite the expressed willingness by the City of Kraljevo, Praxis expresses its concern over the statement made by the President of the Kraljevo City Assembly that it would not be possible to change the Decision on the Right to One-off Financial Assistance for the First-born Child and the Decision on Financial Assistance to Unemployed New Mothers until the local budget for the year 2019 was adopted. We remind that in this way the unequal treatment of individuals or groups on the grounds of their personal characteristics is tolerated, while the equal exercise of rights is postponed and conditioned by the planning of budgetary funds.

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, in addition to the non-transparent decision and policy making process, 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.

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