Deputy Protector of Citizens, Jelena Stojanović, stated today, after signing the Agreement on continuing cooperation on the eradication of statelessness in Serbia that she expected the issue of citizens of the Republic of Serbia who did not have personal documents to be fully resolved as soon as possible.
"It is very important for the Roma community that the exercise of the right to personal documents is always in the limelight for the competent authorities. I expect that the implementation of this third Agreement of Understanding will fully resolve the issue of legally invisible people," said Stojanović.
Today, Stojanović signed the third Agreement of Understanding on continuing cooperation on eradicating statelessness in Serbia with the Head of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representation in Serbia, Francesca Bonelli and Minister of State Administration and Local Self-Government, Marija Obradović.
The Deputy Protector of Citizens stated that the Ombudsman institution paid particular attention to the protection of the rights of the Roma national minority, and that in previous years, the Protector of Citizens had visited dozens of Roma settlements in order to get acquainted with the problems they faced and provide concrete assistance.
Head of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representation in Serbia, Francesca Bonelli, said that the organization had launched a global campaign #Japripadam (#IBelong) in order to eradicate statelessness in the world and that joint efforts were needed to address the remaining problems of people at risk of statelessness living in informal settlements who still did not have all personal documents.
“It is estimated that the number of people facing risk of statelessness in Serbia has decreased from approximately 30,000 in 2010 to about 2,000 in 2022. Therefore, we stand convinced that the Republic of Serbia will be one of the countries to eradicate statelessness and achieve the goals of the UNHCR campaign "I belong" in the next 1,000 days," Bonelli added.
"Institutions in Serbia have stepped up the legal framework and created mechanisms for smooth registration in the birth register, especially for children whose parents do not have personal documents, which provides legal security for those children and for the system as a whole. In cooperation with the Protector of Citizens and the UNHCR, special emphasis was placed on solving the problems of one of the most vulnerable groups in our country, and that is Roma population and on the promotion of other rights regarding personal status, “said Minister Marija Obradović.
Obradović added that the UNHCR study on the prevalence of statelessness among Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians living in informal settlements in Serbia showed that cases when of someone not being registered in the birth register at the moment appeared as an exception and that this agreement would help total eradication of statelessness in Serbia by the end of 2024.
The agreement stipulates that the parties make joint efforts to address the remaining cases when Roma national minority, or anyone else facing these problems, have not exercised the right to registration in the birth register or other rights from personal status, with a special focus on the registration of their newborns in this official record.