Social & Economic rights

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Problems Related to Acquiring Citizenship

Providing free legal aid to persons at risk of statelessness, we have encountered the practice of competent authorities, which we believe is not in accordance with the law and ratified international conventions. We would like to point out the irregularities we have noticed in the procedures related to the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia acquired by birth in its territory.

Having in mind the importance of Article 13 of the Law on Citizenship of the Republic of Serbia, which regulates the acquisition of citizenship by birth and whose goal is to prevent statelessness, we wanted to point out to irregularities in the application of this provision in practice. It stipulates that citizenship can also be acquired by birth in the territory of the Republic of Serbia, if both parents are unknown or have unknown citizenship or if the child would otherwise be stateless. However, acquiring citizenship by birth in Serbia is significantly hampered by the improper practice of competent authorities. In situations where the conditions for acquiring citizenship by birth are not met, registrars do not enter the fact of citizenship in birth registry books, and due to the registrars’ omission, children must conduct lengthy procedures for acquiring citizenship.

The risk of these persons becoming stateless is further exacerbated by another problem related to the application of Article 13 of the Law on Citizenship of the Republic of Serbia, which relates to the action of the Ministry of Interior in citizenship acquiring procedures. In fact, determining citizenship by birth in Serbia is not possible for citizens older than 18. 

Such practice of registrars and the Ministry of Interior is not in accordance with the Law on Citizenship and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. Therefore, we sent an appeal to the Ministry of Interior to take measures for eliminating the observed irregularities.

Since the individuals affected by these problems are almost exclusively members of the Roma national minority, who are among those most exposed to discrimination and social exclusion, and belong to the poorest and most vulnerable layers of society, and since their problems with access to birth registration and citizenship rights significantly worsen the already difficult situation, we believe that these problems should be addressed without any delay. 

Download the document HERE.

This activity has been implemented as part of the project “Ending Roma Statelessness in the Western Balkans”, financed by the Open Society Foundation through the European Network on Statelessness. The views expressed in this document are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the donor.  

 

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