Praxis in action

Praxis

Praxis

Ronaldo [1] was born in December 2020 in Belgrade, at the Clinical Centre of Serbia. Ronaldo’s mother Bukurije Osmani [1] is not registered into birth registry books. She was born in Podujevo and moved to Belgrade where she entered cohabitation. The Free Legal Aid Service of Zemun Municipality in April 2021 initiated, on behalf of Bukurije, a procedure before the Third Basic Court in Belgrade for determining the date and place of her birth. This procedure is still ongoing.

Since Bukurije is undocumented, Ronaldo’s personal name could not be determined by his parents before the registrar. A procedure for determining the child's personal name was initiated before the Social Welfare Centre (SWC) Zemun in late January 2021.

Since a decision was not issued within the legal deadline, an urgency letter was sent to the competent authority in late April. However, the Social Welfare Centre Zemun continued not taking any action in this procedure, and the Ronaldo’s father went to the SWC towards the end of May to get the information about the status of the case. On that occasion, he was told that they had been waiting for the lawyer’s opinion, but that most likely it would not be possible to conduct the procedure until the mother obtained an ID card. In mid-July, the father went to the SWC again, where it was confirmed to him that the procedure would not be conducted until the mother received her ID card.

The instruction of the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, sent to the social welfare centres in 2014, stressed that the right to personal name was guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Constitution and the Law on Family, and that personal name must be determined also to children of undocumented parents. The instruction specifies that even in such situations, parents must be allowed to participate in the procedure if their identity can be guaranteed by a third party with a personal document or if they are personally known to an official.

In July 2021, an appeal was filed for failing to issue a decision within the legal deadline. However, the second instance body - the Ministry of Family Welfare and Demography also significantly exceeded the prescribed deadline and a decision on the appeal is still pending, although it had to decide within two months of receiving the appeal.

Such actions of the Social Welfare Centre violate the right to registration in birth registry books and the right to personal name of the children of undocumented parents, also depriving them of many other rights that cannot be exercised without birth certificates, including the right to health care and social protection.

 

[1] These are not their real names

Lamija Selimi [1] was born in November 2019 in the Clinical and Hospital Centre Zvezdara. At the time of her birth, her mother Leonora [1] did not possess personal documents and therefore was unable to determine her daughter’s personal name after her birth. This is why she had to initiate a procedure for determining her daughter’s personal name before the guardianship authority.

A procedure for determining the child's personal name was initiated before the Social Welfare Centre Palilula, and a decision was issued in March 2020. By this decision, the registrar of Zvezdara Municipality was ordered to register Lamija’s name and surname in birth registry books. However, despite the obligation to implement the final decision of the Social Welfare Centre, the Registry Office Zvezdara has not complied with that obligation nearly two years later, leaving Lamija Selimi without a personal name registered in birth registry books.

In June 2021, the staff of the Registry Office Zvezdara told her father that they would not be able to issue a birth certificate for the child until her mother Leonora received an ID card. After that, Praxis helped them to submit a written request for the issuance of a birth certificate, but neither the requested document was issued nor any response was received, despite the fact that an emergency letter had been sent to the registry office.

Leonora was born in Italy, and in 2020 she conducted the procedure of registration in the birth registry books of Serbia. However, she has not been able to register her permanent residence in Serbia and obtain an ID card. In mid-2021, Leonora, helped by Praxis, submitted a request for the registration of permanent residence in the Police Station Palilula.

Leonora’s permanent residence registration has not yet been approved, due to which she cannot obtain an ID card, while her daughter Lamija Selimi, due to the illegal actions of the registry office, remains unregistered nearly two years after the Social Welfare Centre Palilula adopted a decision on determining her personal name. This not only violates Leonora’s right to registration in birth registry books and the right to personal name, but also deprives her of many other rights that cannot be exercised without a birth certificate, including the right to health care and social protection.

This example once again shows why it is important to systematically resolve the issue of registration in birth registry books immediately after birth, as provided by international conventions, the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia and the Law on Family.

 

[1] These are not their real names.

In 2021, children who could not be registered in birth registry books immediately after birth continued to be born in Serbia. This situation is a consequence of the fact that Serbia has not yet fulfilled its obligations and has not changed the bylaws that prevent immediate registration of children whose mothers are undocumented. Instead, it is necessary to conduct special, often very long and complicated procedures for these children, which can delay their registration into birth registry books for months or even years. Meanwhile, children are left without a birth certificate, thus being prevented or significantly hindered from accessing most of rights. This problem almost exclusively affects the Roma population, which is already one of the most vulnerable and discriminated against groups.

Although ratified international conventions, the Constitution and the Law on Family provide that every child must be registered in birth registry books immediately after birth, the bylaws governing the notification of birth and registration in birth registry books deny this right to children whose mothers do not have personal documents. Numerous international bodies have been for years pointing out to Serbia that it is necessary to change such a situation. This year, the UN Human Rights Committee has pointed out that Serbia did not fulfil its previously issued recommendation about the necessity to facilitate and allow registration in birth registry books of children whose parents do not have personal documents; the European Commission has stressed that all children must be registered at birth, regardless of the status of their parents; while the European Parliament has called on Serbia to solve the problem of structural discrimination faced by Roma regarding citizenship (without a birth certificate, it is not possible to exercise the right to citizenship). Similar recommendations were previously issued to Serbia by the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination. Serbia has also committed to fulfilling the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, including the goal of ensuring that everyone can be registered in birth registry books. Above all, in the Revised Action Plan for Chapter 23, the Government of the Republic of Serbia has determined that the bylaws regulating registration in birth registry books must be amended by the second quarter of 2021, so that children of undocumented parents can be registered in birth registry books immediately after birth.

However, the obligations have not been fulfilled and the recommendations have not been complied with. Instead of amending the disputed bylaw provisions, towards the end of the last year the competent ministries issued an instruction on the actions of authorities in cases of children whose parents do not have personal documents. However, this act is not only not legally binding, but it does not in any way try to solve the problem of timely registration of children in birth registry books. The instruction contains only guidelines on what the relevant authorities should do to initiate procedures for mothers to obtain documents, while children remain unregistered until mothers obtain their ID cards. The experiences of Praxis’ beneficiaries who gave birth in 2021 and did not have personal documents show that not even this instruction is applied in practice, that is, that mothers are not in any way facilitated to obtain their documents.

If the competent authorities continue to ignore this problem, Serbia will remain a country where the fundamental rights of the child are grossly violated and where children, because they could not be registered immediately after birth, remain at risk of being deprived of health care and social protection in the most vulnerable period of life, as well as other rights that cannot be exercised without registration in birth registry books.

Monday, 20 December 2021 00:00

Report "Tomorrow Starts Today presented"

On 17 December 2021, Praxis held a final conference and presented the report “Tomorrow Starts Today –support to increasing transparency of local self-governments, strengthening civic and child participation”.

The report was prepared within the project “Tomorrow Starts Today” which Praxis implemented in partnership with MAP in the period from December 2019 to December 2021 in Leskovac, Bujanovac, Kraljevo, Surdulica i Zemun. The project was supported by the European Union within the Civil Society Facility Programme 2018 – grant scheme for the Republic of Serbia. 

The report presents the most important results of project activities, with the special focus on research that referred to transparency and accountability of the selected local self-governments, which was conducted in the period January-November 2020. The aim of the research was to determine whether local authorities have a proactive approach to informing citizens, and whether information is provided based on freedom of information requests, to analyse the process of adopting acts at the local level and the degree of consultations with CSOs and citizens, as well as the effects of (non-)involvement of CSOs in the process. 

Despite the efforts invested in the previous years in public administration reform, local self-governments still face many challenges reflected mainly in the lack of capacity to implement the reform processes effectively. The most serious challenges refer to consistent implementation of regulations that guarantee free access to information of public importance, as well as to participation of citizens in the process of developing local policies, since there is almost no participation in the stated process. In addition, there is no proactive approach with reference to improving conditions and creating an enabling environment for the development of civil society at the local level. The role of media in the public administration reform process, as an initiator of public debate, is not sufficiently developed, while the reasons lie in financial instability and insufficiently enabling environment for reporting on specific topics.  

At the same time, the reports provides an overview of the results of implemented activities, including activities aimed at strengthening capacities of the civil sector at the local level to monitor public administration reform processes and participate in the development of local policies, advocacy initiatives, informing local media about their role in the reform processes, meetings with relevant stakeholders for the purpose of strengthening cooperation and partnership of the public and civil sectors, as well as a series of activities directed at work with children for the purpose of developing their participatory role in the community and better social inclusion. 

The report also gives recommendations for improving the PAR process at the local level with reference to the transparency of work of administrative bodies and civic participation. 

 

You may download the report HERE.


Rukija Rahmani [1] lives near Bor. The road sunken due to mining mechanisation leads from Bor to the settlement of Brezonik, lying on the deposits of gold, silver and copper ore discovered a long time ago.

There, between the quarry and the mining tailings dump, in a seemingly dystopian valley, there are shacks that once accommodated miners and workers. The end of the building cannot be seen from the long, mouldy and unlit corridor. On the right side of the corridor, there are many rotten doors to the rooms inhabited today mainly by Roma families. Rukija has been living for over 10 years in one of such rooms, full of moisture and without heating. The walls cracked as a result of open-pit blasting. The window panes are covered with nylon. Rukija Rahmani rarely leaves that room. She almost never goes to the City of Bor because she does not have an ID card. Originating from Đakovica, she entered cohabitation in Brezonik. She and her partner have three small children who spend their childhood playing near the overburden dump.

Working in the field, Praxis found out that many new residents of this settlement were not able to register their address of permanent residence, because the facilities in such settlements were owned by the city and the mining company, which stopped issuing permits for the use of housing units a few years before. Considering that the majority of persons come to the settlement for marriage or cohabitation in which children are born, these families remain without the assistance granted by the City of Bor because they do not have a registered address of permanent residence. Comparing the number of children who exercise, annually, only the right to state assistance with the number of children who also exercise the right to city assistance reveals a difference of several dozens of children who are mostly Roma and whose parents do not have a registered address of permanent residence. The three children of Rukija Rahmani are among them. She has never received social assistance or child allowance.

Paradoxically, the City of Bor grants one-time financial aid to mothers of infants, but at the same time indirectly denies them this assistance by preventing them from registering their address of permanent residence. At the same time, in cases like this, the Police Administration in Bor hardly conducts any procedures to determine the address of permanent residence.

In 2014, Rukija was registered in birth registry books on the basis of a court decision, while in 2016, her citizenship of the Republic of Serbia was determined. After determination of her citizenship, she addressed the Police Administration in Bor to register her address of permanent residence, but they always orally rejected her with the general explanation that she was not allowed to submit a permanent residence registration request because she was unable to prove the legal basis of housing. Since she was always rejected orally, there is no evidence of her attempts.

As Rukija Rahmani did not succeed to register her address of permanent residence on her own, she authorised Praxis to represent her in that procedure. At first, the notary public did not want to conduct a certification procedure because Rukija could not speak or understand the Serbian language well enough. Precisely because of these local institutions that refused to register Rukija’s permanent residence and issue her an ID card, she did not dare to move more freely, integrate better and learn the language. Throughout her life in Bor, she had no support from the system.

The Police Administration in Bor accepted Rukija Rahmani’s request for permanent residence registration and ID card issuance only after she had authorised her representative. Handling the request, the Police Administration in Bor noticed that Rukija did not have a personal identification number (JMBG) and ordered her to address the competent authority at the place of her birth, instead of taking the appropriate action ex officio to determine her JMBG. Finally, her JMBG was determined at the request of her authorised representative. While struggling to be recognised before the law, Rukija was completely deprived of the support of local authorities and institutions, which did not recognise her vulnerability and legal invisibility, preventing her to access the basic rights.

At the beginning of November 2021, the results of Praxis' work on this case were already visible: “The police came to check where I lived” - Rukija told Praxis staff happily - “They also talked to the neighbours”. Ten days later, Rukija Rahmani obtained her first ID card.

In the devastated settlement of Brezonik, where wells are no longer usable and where, according to local residents, water passes through asbestos pipes, in a cloud of vapours and dust from tailings, with the enormous quantities of sulphur dioxide, and a whole range of carcinogenic heavy metals in the air, Rukija Rahmani will finally have access to health care.

First of all, she wants to see a doctor in order to get therapy for her leg that she finds increasingly difficult to stand on. “I can't even wear socks anymore because it’s so swollen”, Rukija adds without giving it too much importance and shows us her blue lower leg.

Now that I have an ID card, I will first go to the doctor, and to the social protection service to see if I can get some assistance” - and she adds with a smile - “and I’ll go to my husband's family, stay for a while, and then back home.”

Good luck Rukija!

 

[1]This is not her real name.

Wednesday, 15 December 2021 00:00

Podrška razvoju participacije dece

U okviru projekta „Sutra počinje danas“, koji NVO Praxis sprovodi u partnerstvu sa Udruženjem muzičke umetnosti - Music Art Project, koji finansira Evropska unija u okviru programa „Podrška civilnom društvu 2018“, grant šema za Republiku Srbiju, Praxis je pripremio praktikum „Podrška razvoju participacije dece - praktikum za rad sa decom ranog školskog uzrasta“.

Praktikum je namenjen učiteljima i učiteljicama svih osnovnih škola u Srbiji i ima za cilj da doprinese uključivanju dece u procese kreiranja politika i osnaži ih da aktivno učestvuju u stvaranju društvenog okruženja u lokalnim sredinama u kojima žive. 

Pored kratkog pregleda principa participacije u međunarodnom i domaćem zakonodavstvu, praktikum daje prikaz iskustava drugih zemalja na polju dečjeg aktivizma i njihove uključenosti u kreiranje i donošenje odluka i lokalnih politika. Praktikum nudi praktične savete učiteljima za uključivanje osnovnih elemenata participacije u školski plan i program i međupredmetne kompetencije, u cilju razvijanja znanja i veština učenika u ovoj oblasti od najranijeg školskog uzrasta. Takođe, praktikum sadrži i smernice koje kroz korake u vidu radionica treba da olakšaju praktičnu primenu i vođenje kroz projektnu aktivnost. Praktikum je pogodan i za realizovanje ovih aktivnosti u starijim razredima osnovnoškolskog uzrasta.  

 

Praktikum možete preuzeti ovde.

U okviru projekta „Sutra počinje danas“, koji NVO Praxis sprovodi u partnerstvu sa Udruženjem muzičke umetnosti - Music Art Project, koji finansira Evropska unija u okviru programa „Podrška civilnom društvu 2018“, grant šema za Republiku Srbiju, Praxis je pripremio „Vodič za učešće lokalnih organizacija civilnog društva u procesu reforme javne uprave“.

Uloga organizacija civilnog društva u procesu reforme javne uprave je od izuzetnog značaja imajući u vidu to da kroz javnozagovaračke aktivnosti one pokreću rešavanje ključnih pitanja i ukazuju na potrebe, stavove i interese određene korisničke grupe, bilo da se radi o inicijativama koje pokreću ili o uticaju na donosioce odluka ili sadržinu dokumenata javnih politika. U svom delovanju civilno društvo se oslanja na uspostavljen pravni i strateški okvir, zbog čega je nužno da organizacije, koje artikulišu stavove i potrebe društvenih grupa, poznaju prilike i mehanizme kako bi delotvorno i ravnopravno učestvovale u životu zajednice. 

Ovaj vodič je namenjen lokalnim organizacijama civilnog društva i ima za cilj da upozna lokalno civilno društvo sa pravnim i strateškim okvirom koji uređuje prostor i mehanizme za praćenje procesa reforme javne uprave, kao i da ih upozna sa značajem uloge koje ono ima u demokratskim zajednicama, da podigne njihova znanja o aktuelnom procesu reforme javne uprave, naročito o zahtevima u pogledu transparentnosti rada javne uprave i donošenja lokalnih propisa i politika, i da unapredi njihove veštine praćenja i javnog zagovaranja kako bi se poboljšali ukupni kapaciteti organizacija civilnog društva za aktivnu participaciju i stvorile prilike za ravnopravno partnerstvo sa jedinicama lokalne samouprave u kojima deluju. 

 

„Vodič za učešće lokalnih organizacija civilnog društva u procesu reforme javne uprave“ možete pronaći ovde.


Grupa mladih aktivista, učenika Osnovne škole „Dimitrije Tucović" iz Kraljeva, realizovala je ekološku akciju pod nazivom „Ovo je zemlja za nas" u nameri da doprinesu očuvanju životne sredine.

Realizacija same ideje krenula je na sastanku učeničkog parlamenta, gde su se osnovci dogovorili da se obrate direktoru JKP „Čistoća" Kraljevo sa molbom da im pokloni ambalažu za sakupljanje papira za reciklažu budući da veći deo nastavnih sredstava od papira najčešće završava u kanti za smeće. Nakon ovog apela, škola je inicirala posetu JKP „Čistoca" gde je održano predavanje za učenike na temu odlaganja smeća, reciklaže, aerozagađenja i o tome šta se može uraditi u cilju očuvanja životne sredine.

Cilj aktivnosti koje su organizovane sa učenicima i učenicama bio je da ih osnaži i poveća njihovu participaciju u kreiranju i donošenju politika u svojoj sredini kroz dostupne mehanizme, kao i da podstakne njihov aktivizam kako bi uticali ne promene u svom okruženju.

Danas su predstavnici JKP „Čistoća" Kraljevo uručili školi kante za sakupljanje papira za recliklažu na završnom događaju ove uspešne ekološke akcije. Realizacija dečije inicijative je deo aktivnosti na projektu „Sutra počinje danas“ koji NVO Praxis sprovodi u partnerstvu sa organizacijom Music Art Project, uz podršku Evropske unije.


Učenici i učenice Osnovne škole „Vožd Karađorđe“ iz Leskovca su pokrenuli akciju „Moje sutra počinje danas".

Želja dece je da ukažu na problem oštećenih mobilijara u parkićima i na igralištima, kao i na problem otvorenih šahtova i blokiranih ili zakrčenih prolaza i trotoara. Učenici su tokom septembra prikupljali podatke, fotografisali oštećeni mobilijar, beležili adrese i lokacije. Na osnovu prikupljenog materijala napravili su prezentaciju koju su danas, u toku Dečje nedelje, predočili nadležnima kako bi se u skladu sa mogućnostima lokalne samouprave popravili, sredili ili uredili ovi objekti i mobilijar.

Cilj aktivnosti koje su organizovane sa učenicima i učenicama bio je da ih osnaži i poveća njihovu participaciju u kreiranju i donošenju politika u svojoj sredini kroz dostupne mehanizme, kao i da podstakne njihov aktivizam kako bi uticali na promene u svom okruženju. Realizacija dečje inicijative je deo aktivnosti na projektu „Sutra počinje danas“ koji NVO Praxis sprovodi u partnerstvu sa organizacijom Music Art Project uz podršku Evropske unije

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Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action