Social & Economic rights

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Six Months Marked since the Beginning of the Implementation of the Roma CARDS Project

On November 11, 2008, UNHCR organized a press conference in Media Center, Belgrade, to mark six months since the beginning of implementation of the Project “Social Inclusion and Access to Human Rights for Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian Communities in the Western Balkans”, funded by the European Union, a project which is complementary to the UNICEF Project “Combating Social Exclusion: Universal Birth Registration in Serbia”.

On that occasion, Lennart Kotsalainen, UNHCR Representative in Serbia, Oliver Petrovic, UNICEF Early Childhood Development Specialist, Ivanka Kostic, Praxis’ Executive Director, and Dejan Bajramovic, Roma Coordinator from the Municipality of Vranje spoke about the achieved results in the Project implementation. Talking about the problems of the Roma, Mr Kotsalainen said that without documents and civil registration the Roma would be continuously marginalized and would not be able to integrate into society. He also pointed out two components of the Project, i.e. information campaign and free legal assistance, the latter being implemented by Praxis, UNHCR’s implementing partner in this Project. Mr Oliver Petrovic has said that registration into birth registry book is a basic human right of all children, which enables them to access other rights, such as rights to health care and social welfare, education, etc, and, in a way, provides them with protection of the State from the threat of being abused, forced to work or involved in the criminal activities. He emphasised that 5% of Roma children in Serbia were not registered at birth.

Out of 20 municipalities in which the Project is being implemented, information campaign and field activities have been performed in 11 municipalities so far: Sabac, Kragujevac, Kraljevo, Vranje, Lebane, Vladicin Han, Krusevac, Prokuplje, Novi Sad, Zrenjanin and Pozarevac.

Ivanka Kostic, Praxis Executive Director, presented the results achieved in the first 6 months of the Project implementation and pointed to the examples of good practice of state bodies, but also on the problems “legally invisible” persons face in accessing their rights. In the above-mentioned 11 municipalities, Praxis visited a total of 36 Roma settlements, submitted 138 requests for re-registration and subsequent registration into registry books and identified additional 128 persons (115 children and 14 adults) for whom it is necessary to initiate the procedures of subsequent registration into birth registry books. So far, a total of 39 requests for re-registration/subsequent registration have been sold, i.e. 31 children and 8 adults have been registered into registry books. Praxis also submitted a total of 1,476 requests for issuance of personal documents for parents, out of which 1,209 requests have been successfully solved.

Ivanka Kostic has emphasised once again that it is necessary to find a systemic solution for the issue of “legally invisible” persons, which particularly affects Roma population, and pointed again to the Model Law on the Procedure for Recognition of Persons before the Law, drafted by the Centre for Advanced Legal Studies in cooperation with UNHCR and Praxis, and supported by the BPRM, OSCE and UNICEF. This Model Law prescribes a simple procedure for recognition of “legally invisible” persons before the law and, at the moment, there is an ongoing public debate regarding its adoption, organized by the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights of the Republic of Serbia.

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