Domestic Cases: Serbia

Access to Housing

Obrenovac public housing

In April 2011, seventeen predominantly Roma families, including 35 minors and several elderly people were threatened with eviction from the complex of municipally owned buildings in which they were living. Some of the Roma have been living in this location for more than 40 years and most of them have contracts with the municipality with protected tenancy rights, giving them the right to stay in the property for an indefinite period. Representatives of the municipality informed the community that they would rehoused in metal containers to the outskirts of Obrenovac. The ERRC is supporting four Romani families with tenancy rights in pursuing protection from the forced eviction before domestic courts, especially with regards to the provision of securing adequate alternative accommodation in line with international human rights standards.

Šabac eviction

In the town of Šabac in August 2010, five Romani families were forcefully evicted and their homes demolished. The local authorities failed to provide any adequate alternative accommodation, leaving these families homeless, including one pregnant woman and eight children under nine years of age. The ERRC is supporting the evictees in seeking compensation before the Serbian courts against the state and City of Šabac for having their rights violated.

State Response to Violence

Novi Sad police brutality

A fifteen year-old Romani boy was badly beaten by the police during a fair on 12 July 2011 and taken into custody where the police tried to extort a confession from him. The ERRC is providing support to the victim and his family to bring legal proceedings against the police officers who failed to investigate the matter properly.

Bački Petrovac police brutality

In November 2012 two Romani brothers, who have been regularly harassed by the local police, were taken to the police station where were beaten after being suspected of theft. The younger brother, who was a minor at the time, had a burst hernia and was taken for an emergency operation. The ERRC is helping these brothers to bring legal proceedings against the responsible police officers.

Zemun Polje

During a child's birthday celebration in July 2014, nine police officers entered a Roma family’s apartment and started to randomly beat people who were inside, based on a complaint about loud music. The incident took place in a block of social housing flats. It appears that the police cut the power before going in with electric torches; several of the family members are visually impaired. Members of the family were taken into custody and kept in a sobering-up cell. The ERRC is supporting the Romani family in taking legal proceedings against police officers.

Free Movement and Migration

Serbian border refusal

Macedonian citizens are normally allowed to enter Serbia without difficulties. However, a Romani man with Macedonian citizenship was heading to Germany to visit his son; he was refused entry to Serbia, together with the entire group of passengers from Macedonia, all Roma, travelling in a taxi van. The ERRC is supporting the client is bringing a discrimination claim against the Serbian authorities.

Access to Education

Student of the Generation

In June 2011, a Romani student (one of the few Roma at his high school) was unfairly denied the "student of the generation" (valedictorian) award although he met the objective criteria for the award, having been the top pupil in his class The ERRC is supporting the Romani student in bringing a discrimination claim against the school authorities.

Identity Documents

Birth Registration

With support from the European Network on Statelessness, the ERRC and the Serbian NGO Praxis have lodged a constitutional “initiative” with the Constitutional Court in Serbia attacking a provision of legislation which allows registrars to delay birth registration. Many Roma in Serbia, following years of exclusion, discrimination, and, especially in the 1990s, forced movement, do not have identity documents. When they give birth in Serbia, the registrars refuse to register the birth. The provision we are attacking gives them legal cover: it vaguely allows registrars to delay birth registration for an indefinite period to verify the details to be entered in the register of births. We think this is contrary to the human right of every child to be registered immediately after birth and to have a name and a legal personality. We submitted our initiative on 7 March 2016. You can find an English version of it here.

On 12 September 2016 the Constitutional Court rejected the petition, essentially reasoning that there was no problem with the legislation in the abstract. An English translation of the judgment we prepared can be found here.

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