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Information

The Protector of Citizens requested the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, City Social Welfare Center and Braće Jerković Elementary School to notify him, for the purpose of protecting child’s best interest, on all the facts, but also on the measures and activities that will be undertaken regarding the case of a child who came on the first day of school infected with coronavirus.

The Protector of Citizens learned from the media that a pupil, for whom it was later discovered to be coronavirus positive, came to this Belgrade school on the first day of this school year and that the school addressed the competent social welfare center in relation to these facts.

In an own-initiative investigation launched due to the possibility of endangering or violating the rights and best interests of a child, the Protector of Citizens has requested the competent ministry to inform him within 15 days about the outcome of the investigation initiated against the school and about the measures and activities that will be further taken.

At the same time, the Protector of Citizens requests the City Social Welfare Center and Braće Jerković Elementary School to notify him within the same deadline on all relevant facts and circumstances related to media allegations and planned measures and activities to be taken in this particular case.

The Protector of Citizens requested the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy and the Tax Administration to rectify systemic shortcomings in the cases of violating citizens’ rights by the employers and that they act according to the Criminal Procedure Code in case of suspicion that some of the criminal acts related to labor have been committed.

Following the complaint about labor rights violation, the Protector of Citizens initiated the investigation of controlling work regularity and legality of these bodies to which the complainant turned for help and which transferred to her the entire job of rectifying the irregularities.

The Protector of Citizens ascertained in the investigation that the complainant's employer had sold the company and during her maternity leave, registered her as an employee of his other fictitious company, and that he did not pay taxes and contributions, which was why she did not have valid health care booklet for herself and the child. In addition, she was denied the right to compulsory social insurance after returning from maternity leave after giving birth to the first child, which indirectly affected her inability to exercise the right to salary compensation during pregnancy with the second child, the one that she was at when addressing the Protector of Citizens.

Amid these circumstances, the complainant was not even able to obtain the termination of her employment contract, thus preventing her from registering with the National Employment Service and exercising her statutory rights in the event of unemployment. She has also been prevented from seeking employment with another employer, because she is still employed in a company that exists only formally and whose accountable person is inaccessible to state authorities.

In this procedure, the Protector of Citizens established that the competent authorities only formally undertook actions within their competence, which did not have a real effect on the exercise of rights that have not been exercised to date and that by giving priority to form over substance, the complainant remained neglected and invisible to the system.

The Protector of Citizens determined that none of the competent bodies undertook activities to regulate the legal status of the complainant, despite the indisputable fact that the complainant’s employer was evading the laws and bodies of the Republic of Serbia. This job was transferred to the complainant by referring her to various bodies and instructing her to regulate her own status, although she was not authorized to and was not able to ensure the availability of the employer to the authorities, nor to force him to perform his duties.

The Protector of Citizens reminds that two years ago, after 22 similar complaints were received; he issued a recommendation for rectifying the shortcomings, which have only been partially acted upon to date, and that the systemic problems covered by that recommendation are still pending.

Given that, from 2018 until today, the competent authorities have not taken the necessary measures to amend the regulations to ensure timely action of the authorities in case the employer acts illegally, circumvents the laws and makes himself inaccessible to the competent authorities, the Protector of Citizens is again asking them to rectify systemic shortcomings and to act in similar cases in accordance with the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code.

The Protector of Citizens highlighted that the legal deadline for initiating judicial proceedings for determining facts on “missing babies”, which expires on 11 September 2020, should be extended for more than a month and a half i.e. for the duration of the state of emergency proclaimed due to the coronavirus epidemic as the deadlines in court proceedings were suspended in that period pursuant to Government’s Decree.

Accordingly, the Protector of Citizens calls the courts to take into account the Government’s Decree on the deadlines in court proceedings during the state of emergency proclaimed on 15 March 2020, which entered into force on 20 March 2020. Article 1 of the Decree specifies that the deadlines for initiating non-contentious procedure (pursuant to which the proceedings for establishing facts on “missing babies” are also conducted) cease to run over the state of emergency.

The Decree of the Government of Serbia ceased to be valid on the day when the state of emergency was lifted on 6 May 2020 at which point the deadlines started running again.

“The problem of 'missing babies', which has not been solved for many years now and which is a harsh mark for our society, must get its epilogue, according to the Law. That is why we will endeavor to end the cases of 'missing babies' within the legally prescribed conditions, in order for parents to finally get the truth they have been waiting for decades in court proceedings”, the Protector of Citizens, Mr. Zoran Pašalić, stated.

The Protector of Citizens has used and will be using his legal right, on behalf of parents and any other person authorized to participate in resolving these cases, to petition the Court for ascertaining the facts on the status of a newborn infant suspected to have disappeared from maternity wards in Serbia, Mr. Pašalić has said adding that he has filed several such petitions to the court.

The Protector of Citizens has pointed out that the deadline for initiating the procedure prescribed by the Law on Determining the Facts on the Status of Newborn Infants Suspected to Have Disappeared from Maternity Wards in the Republic of Serbia, which entered into force on 11 March 2020, should be extended for another 47 days during which the deadlines for initiating these proceedings were brought to a halt due to the state of emergency.

Article 17 of the Law specifies the deadline for initiating proceedings before the court within six months from entering into force, so according to the Law, 11 September 2020 is the last day of the deadline. As the deadlines for initiating new proceedings ceased to run from 20 March 2020 to 6 May 2020, the Protector of Citizens believes that the deadline for instigating the proceedings for ascertaining the facts on missing babies should be extended.

Article 15 of the Law on Establishing Facts on the Status of Newborn Infants Suspected to Have Disappeared from Maternity Wards in the Republic of Serbia stipulates that a petition for ascertaining facts on the status of newborn infants suspected to have disappeared from a maternity ward in the Republic of Serbia, may be filed by the Protector of Citizens on behalf of parents and other authorized persons.

After learning from the media that children with spinal muscular atrophy have been waiting for six months for the only therapy they can receive, while their health condition is deteriorating, the Protector of Citizens launched today own initiative investigations of controlling work legality and regularity of Republic Health Insurance Fund (RHIF) and Child and Adolescent Neurology and Psychiatry Clinic in Belgrade.

Due to the possibility of endangering or violating the rights and best interests of a child, in the procedure initiated after learning from the media that there is a delay in the procedure of registering "Risdiplam" syrup, the Protector of Citizens demands that these two institutions notify him on the relevant facts and circumstances related to the procedures of approval and registration of this medicine.

The Protector of Citizens requests the RHIF and the Child and Adolescent Neurology and Psychiatry Clinic to notify him within 15 days on the measures and activities that will be taken in this case, as well about the phase of considering the medicine’s approval and registration as well as about the time when a final decision might be expected.

Ministry of Health, Sector for Inspection, Department for Health Inspection, branch in Niš, made an omission in their work by failing to provide the complainant with a notification on the outcome of the inspection procedure, which violated the complainant's right to reply and violated the principles of good administration, the Protector of Citizens established.

In addition, it did not achieve adequate cooperation with the Protector of Citizens, as it provided the body with incomplete and inaccurate answers.

Based on the identified shortcomings in the work, the Protector of Citizens issued a recommendation to the Ministry of Health, Sector for Inspection, Department for Health Inspection that in the future the body will deliver notifications on the outcome of inspection procedures to the applicants within the legal deadlines, and that it will provide the Protector of Citizens, upon his request, with complete, precise and concrete answers.

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