Serbia saw some positive legislative developments in 2018, but the update also highlights some continuing concerns with implementation in practice.
In March 2018, Serbia adopted a new Law on Foreigners, which came into force in October. The new law establishes a definition of a stateless person and introduces provisions on detention and return procedures that could improve the situation of some stateless people. Detention may now only be ordered after considering less coercive measures; removal can be postponed and access to basic rights granted if someone’s identity can’t be determined (through no fault of their own); and temporary residence can be granted on humanitarian grounds if removal is postponed for over a year. As a result, the assessment of Serbia’s performance in the Detention theme has slightly improved.
However, there is also a provision in the new law that presumes that if someone can’t establish their identity or doesn’t have a travel document, they are obstructing removal, which undermines some of these positive changes. The Index update also shows that work remains to be done to bring Serbian law, policy and practice on the protection of stateless people and prevention and reduction of statelessness in line with international standards: Serbia still has no statelessness determination procedure; bylaws requiring parents to be documented to register births remain in force; and safeguards to prevent children being born stateless in the country are undermined by implementation gaps.
Other new information added includes updated population data, a link to the new Law on Free Legal Aid, and information on law, policy and practice relating to the withdrawal of nationality, where Serbian legislation is assessed positively overall against international norms.
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