Social & Economic rights

Friday, 13 July 2018

Appeal to the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government to Remove Legal Obstacles to birth registration immediately after birth

Praxis sent an appeal to the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government to undertake measures within its jurisdiction to remove legal obstacles that prevent birth registration immediately after birth in case of children whose mothers do not possess personal documents.

Various international organizations and treaty bodies have also pointed to this problem in Serbia. Within the Third Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) concerning Serbia, the UN Human Rights Council gave, among others, a recommendation to the Republic of Serbia to ensure that all children born in Serbia have access to timely birth registration immediately after birth, without discrimination and regardless of the legal or documentation status of their parents.

The Republic of Serbia supported this recommendation. However, in order to implement it, it is necessary to change two by-laws (Rulebook on the procedure for the issuance of birth notification and form of the issuance of birth notification in a health care institution and the Instruction on administering registry books and forms of registry books) which hinder registration of all necessary data about children in the birth registry, including their personal names, in case when parents do not possess personal documents. This practically means that if the mother does not possess an ID card and a birth certificate, it will not be possible to determine personal name of the new-born when registering him/her in the birth registry. It will not be possible to register complete data about parents in the birth registry either. In other words, the child will not be registered in the birth registry immediately after birth; he/she will not be able to obtain a birth certificate, will be deprived of numerous rights and will remain legally invisible.

By amending these by-laws, which falls within the jurisdiction of the Minister in charge of public administration affairs, not only would the recommendation from the UPR be implemented, but the hierarchy of norms would be respected whereby the by-laws should be harmonized with legal norms of greater legal force. Specifically, Serbian Constitution, the Family Law and ratified international treaties all guarantee the right to birth registration and a personal name to every child, immediately after birth. 

Apart from the UN Human Rights Council, other international organizations and treaty bodies have also drawn attention to this problem (Concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child in relation to the combined second and third periodic review of the Republic of Serbia; 2018 Report on Serbia by the European Commission). Furthermore, Serbia has committed to implement UN Sustainable Development Goals, one of them (SDG 16.9) being to provide legal identity for all, including birth registration.

The fact that the situation in Serbia concerning access to right to birth registration is not satisfactory has also been emphasised in the Statelessness Index, which gives an overview of how different countries in Europe protect stateless persons and what they do in order to prevent and reduce statelessness. Even though Serbia received good review in relation to some aspects, the review was poor in relation to exercise of the right to timely birth registration of children in the birth registry books and in relation to prevention of statelessness of persons born in Serbia.

Apart from the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, Praxis also appealed to the Ombudsperson to contribute to removing the stated legal obstacles within its scope of authority.

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