Coalition against Discrimination Statement on the European Commission Progress Report

Belgrade, Nov. 15, 2010

Coalition against Discrimination has the pleasure to conclude that in the Progress Report on Serbia, the European Commission has dedicated due attention to the antidiscrimination issue. The Coalition further finds that the Report conclusions can make a significant contribution to further improvement of the public bodies' actions for prevention of discrimination against certain discriminated groups.

In the Coalition's opinion, the state is obliged to dedicate special attention to the development of tolerance, non-violence and non-discrimination culture in all social life segments. Having this goal in mind, civil society organizations should impose as natural partners to the state bodies.

However, the Coalition cosiders that it is not possible to create a society of equally free individuals without exploiting efficient mechanisms for legal protection against discrimination. This is why it is crucial that state bodies, especially courts and prosecutors, Commissioner for Equality Protection, as well as ministries in charge, immediately start using legal means to deal with key antidiscrimination breaches, which have been burdening the public life in the country, and to publicly expose them in line with the Antidiscrimination Law.

Most of all, the state bodies' activities should focus on the following issues:

  • Recognition of legal subjectivity to legally invisible persons, most of which are members of Roma population, as well as their full inclusion into the community's social life; it is essential to pass adequate legal regulations as soon as possible, to enable legally invisible persons to get registered in public registers simply and efficiently;

  • Full implementation of international standards in terms of the right to residence and forced eviction, transparency of the process of Roma settlements transfer, and provision of adequate alternative accommodation to the inhabitants of such settlements; persons who live in illegal settlements and homeless people need to be enabled to register their residence, and then they need to be issued personal ID cards;
  • Recognition of the right to official use of mother tongue to all national minorities, including Vlach national minority, as well as the right to form a national council based on the results of the national council elections;

  • Efficient and non-selective implementation of the existing laws that protect the rights of LGBT population against discrimination and violence;

  • Passing laws and establishing institutional practice that would fully respect status and other rights of transgender and transsexual persons in line with the Council of Europe's recommendations;

  • Provision of full gender equality in all segments of social life, and in particular improvement of legal protection of women against domestic violence, including proscription of obligation for relevant state bodies to interconnect their activities in prevention and punishment of domestic violence; the care of state bodies should unreservedly aim at the legal status and rights of special categories of women, such as women with disabilities, single mothers, sex workers, and women in prison;

  • Introduction of special penal-legal regulations on punishment of hate crimes into the Penal Code and establishment of practice for implementation of the existing regulations on discriminatory criminal acts;

  • Full achievment of inclusive education goals, especially system and systematic elimination of all forms of discrimination through reproduction of ignorance and discriminatory practices in schools; in order to eliminate cultural patterns which serve as a basis for intolerance, it is essential to work on the reform of homophobic and other discriminatory contents and practices in high schools; it is also necessary to show more decisive and complex support to the education of children and young people with disabilities in a regular educational system, as well as unambiguous definition of segregation of children and young people with disabilities in special institutions, schools, boarding schools and student residences, as a severe form of discrimination;

  • Creation of a legal framework fit for full enjoyment of rights and freedoms of persons with mental disabilities, particularly those institutionally accommodated and persons who are deprived of working ability.

The Coalition remains at disposal to all citizens, state bodies, and international organizations in joint fight against all forms of discrimination. Apart from pointing to discriminatory cases in the society, the Coalition will continue to underline the examples if good practice and take active part in proposing laws and policies whose goal is the realization of full equality.

Members of the Coalition Against Discrimination are: Center for Advanced Legal Studies, Civil Rights Defenders, Labris – Organization for Lesbian Human Rights, Anti-trafficking Center, Network of Boards for Human Rights (CHRIS Network), Association of Students with Disabilities, Gayten LGBT, PRAXIS and Regional Centre for Minorities.

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