Social & Economic rights

Wednesday, 28 December 2022

How the risk of statelessness is transmitted from generation to generation




Naim Selimi was born in March 2022 in the maternity hospital in Vranje. His parents failed to register him in the birth register after his birth, because Naim's mother, Senada, does not have personal documents. The boy's parents repeatedly tried to enroll their son in the birth register,  but they were verbally refused, and the reason given was that the mother was not registered in the birth register and did not have an identification document.

Naim's mother, Senada, was born in Germany, but she could not be registered in birth registry of Serbia, because she fails to regulate the issue of citizenship. Senada initiated a procedure to determine citizenship before the Ministry of Internal Affairs, but they refuses to carry out the procedure until Senada provides proof that her mother is also a citizen of Serbia. Senada has proof that her father is a citizen of Serbia, however, she cannot provide such proof for her mother because the registers in which her mother was registered remained inaccessible to the Serbian authorities after the war conflicts in Kosovo in 1999.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs informed Senada that the procedure for determining citizenship should also be initiated for her mother, but in this procedure, the chances of success would be even lower than for Senada, because it would be necessary to provide evidence of the citizenship of Senada's mother's parents (Senada's grandparents), because their documents are not accessible to the Serbian authorities either. The Ministry of Internal Affairs has indicated that Senada's request to determine citizenship will be rejected if she fails to obtain proof of her mother's citizenship.

Senada, through no fault of its own - because citizens should not be held responsible for the state's failure to preserve the registers - found itself in a situation where it cannot resolve the issue of its citizenship. In addition, although in Senada's case, the application of the provision of the law according to which Serbian citizenship is also acquired by persons who were born abroad, whose one parent was a citizen of Serbia, and the other is of unknown or stateless citizenship, the Ministry of Internal Affairs refuses to apply this basis for acquiring citizenship.

Every child must be registered in the birth register immediately after birth and every child has the right to a personal name and citizenship from birth. These rights are guaranteed by ratified international conventions and our Constitution and Family Law.

However, children are continuously born in Serbia and cannot be registered in the register immediately after birth. The reason for this lies in two by-laws that regulate the birth registration procedure, which stipulate that information about the parents is entered in the birth register based on their certified copy from the registers and identity cards. Guided by those by-laws, rather than ratified international conventions and domestic regulations of greater legal force, and at the same time ignoring the principle that the best interest of the child must always come first - registry offices refuse to register right after birth children whose mothers do not have personal documents, and the risk of statelessness is transmitted from generation to generation. Senada and her child still cannot be registered in the birth register, and as a result of which they do not have the opportunity to exercise their basic rights.





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