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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Mother Accused of the Criminal Act of Violation of Family Obligations for Not Obtaining Personal Documents to Her Children

The procedure against S.S, accused of the criminal act of violation of family relations (Article 196, Paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code),  is being conducted before the First Basic Court in Belgrade because she has not fulfilled obligations stipulated by the Article 69 of the Family Law nor has she raised the children in a way to take care about their life and health. The bill of indictment reads that S.S. “was residing in the unhygienic settlement in Novi Beograd (…) without registering the children to competent bodies and obtaining them personal documents, nor did she enroll them in school and include in educational system due to which the minor children were educationally and hygienically neglected and disregarded”.

It is a notorious fact that residents of informal settlements are not able to register permanent residence due to the lack of legal basis of housing. Until 1999, S.S. lived in Kosovo, when she was forced to leave her home and moved later on to Sarajevo, where she gave birth to her two children. However, the children did not acquire the citizenship of BiH, nor did they acquire the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia. On coming to Belgrade, S.S. was assisted by Praxis in the procedure of determination of a personal name for one of her sons in Sarajevo, and obtaining of birth certificates for both sons. Afterwards, she tried to register their permanent residence and obtain them health booklets, but with no success as they did not have regulated citizenship status. None of the bodies she addressed did instruct her on activities that should be taken in order to obtain personal documents for her children. In addition, contrary to the bill of indictment, S.S. did enroll her children in school.

This is the first known case of a parent accused because her children do not possess personal documents. It is absurd that state bodies criminally prosecute the citizen S.S. for alleged neglect of children instead of taking measures that would enable the residents of informal Roma settlements and persons at risk of statelessness the full integration into society.

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