The European Commission stressed again, in its recently published 2020 Progress Report on Serbia, that all children must be registered at birth, irrespective of whether their parents have personal documents, Praxis warns. At the same time, the European Commission called on Serbia to change the legislation obstructing exercise of this right.

Praxis reminds that the European Commission made the same recommendation to Serbia in its 2019 Progress Report, but that the problematic provisions remain in force. As a consequence, there are still children born in Serbia who cannot be registered in birth registries immediately after birth because their parents are undocumented. Though UNICEF took the stand that registration immediately after birth means a deadline of several days after birth, numerous rights that may be exercised only with registration in birth registries remain elusive to these children in Serbia in the first months and sometimes for years. These are mostly the children of Roma who have more obstacles to access the rights and services than the others do.

The Progress Report notes that the Law on Permanent and Temporary Residence of Citizens should be applied consistently in order to allow the internally displaced Roma living in informal settlements to register permanent residence and access socioeconomic rights. Though the Law stipulates that all the citizens without a legal basis of residence must be allowed to register permanent residence at the addresses of social welfare centres, the clients of Praxis ever more often face obstacles in exercising this right. In some municipalities, it is almost impossible to register permanent residence at the addresses of social welfare centers.

The European Commission notes also other problems faced by the members of Roma ethnic minority in Serbia. Importantly, although child marriages are not customary in general population, almost 60% of Roma girls marry at a young age. Very few Roma children, it is also noted, attend preschool education, with the dropout rates still high, and the negligible number of Roma university graduates. Therefore, the problem of seggregation in education needs to be resolved.