Social & Economic rights

Monday, 21 March 2022

The Committee Reiterated its Call on Serbia to Urgently Provide Access to Socio-economic Rights to Undocumented Persons

The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has expressed deep concern over the large number of children that cannot be registered in birth registry books and persons that are unable to register permanent residence at the addresses of social welfare centres, due to which their access to social services is limited.

The Committee therefore called on Serbia to take urgent measures to remedy this situation and to provide undocumented persons with access to social protection and health care, education and other social services. 

In this regard, the Committee called on Serbia to urgently review the regulations governing registration in birth registry books in order to enable all children born in Serbia to be registered in birth registry books, as well as to allow internally displaced persons from Kosovo living in informal settlements to register permanent residence at the addresses of social welfare centres. The Committee attached special importance to these recommendations, requesting Serbia to report on its compliance with them in a much shorter period compared to the majority of other recommendations.

This is, among other things, emphasized in the Concluding Observations of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on the Third Periodic Report of Serbia on the Implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The Committee issued almost identical recommendations to Serbia in 2014 as part of the Concluding Observations on the Second Periodic Report of Serbia, but the state did not comply with these recommendations even eight years later. This year's Concluding Observations recommend that Serbia should take measures to address also other issues related to access to socio-economic rights that Praxis has pointed out to the Committee in its report.

As regards access to free legal aid, the Committee expressed concern about the inadequate provision of free legal aid by local self-governments and the unclear legal procedure for providing free legal aid by civil society organisations, which makes it very difficult to provide assistance to those most in need, and issued recommendations to eliminate these shortcomings. The Committee also stressed that it was necessary to raise awareness of the public, especially marginalised groups, about the availability of free legal aid and the procedure for exercising rights.

As regards social protection, the Committee called on Serbia to remove discriminatory requirements, i.e. the requirements that may have a discriminatory effect on the exercise of the right to social assistance and parental allowance (such as mandatory vaccination and school attendance), while pointing out to the necessity of simplifying the procedures for exercising rights.

The Committee also expressed concern over the fact that persons without registered permanent residence were denied access to health care, although this was contrary to the law, and recommended that the state should provide all citizens with access to primary health care.

The Committee also stressed that the state should take all measures to eliminate child marriages and sensitise the public to the harmful consequences of this practice, as well as to ensure that the legal provision stipulating 18 years as the minimum age for marriage was applied without exception. 

Praxis reiterates that undocumented persons and members of the Roma national minority in Serbia face many obstacles that hinder or prevent their access to socio-economic rights, but also expresses its satisfaction for the fact that almost all of its recommendations for resolving these problems were included in the Committee’s Concluding Observations. Praxis also calls on the competent authorities to implement the recommended measures without delay, thus improving the situation of these people, who are among the poorest and most disadvantaged citizens of Serbia.

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