National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia / Activities / Activity details
22 November 2016 Participants of the presentation of the Handbook for Parliamentarians
Tuesday, 22 November 2016
Presentation of Handbook for Parliamentarians – Guide Through International Refugee Law
The Committee on Labour, Social Issues, Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction organised a public hearing today at the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, dedicated to a presentation of the Handbook for Parliamentarians – Guide through International Refugee Law, drafted in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
Besides Vesna Rakonjac, Chairperson of the Committee on Labour, Social Issues, Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction who chaired the meeting, the public hearing was also attended by Hans Friedrich Schodder, Head of the UNHCR Office in Belgrade, Mila Djurdjevic, advisor at the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, Ivan Gerginov, Assistant Commissioner at the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration, Jasmina Lalic, Chief Police Inspector at the Ministry of the Interior, Milos Jankovic, Deputy Ombudsman, Ljubimka Mitrovic, legal advisor at the UNHCR Office in Belgrade, and Nikola Kovacevic, legal advisor at the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights.
In her opening address the chair said that since the onset of the migrant crisis the Republic of Serbia has abided by international legal norms, at the same time taking into consideration the human aspect of the people who migrated onto its territory. She said that the Handbook is an adequate base of additional information for the MPs on all the social aspects of the migrant crisis, as well as about the international legal aid at these persons’ disposal. She said that, though the European Commission had commended Serbia’s treatment of the refugees, the country must invest additional efforts to establish national legislation in the field.
Hans Friedrich Schodder thanked the Parliamentary Committee for the opportunity to present the Handbook to the MPs, adding that their role is crucial for the formulation and adoption of national legislation based on international law. This would formally regulate the management of migrant trends and enable the migrants’ contribution to society after integration.
Opening the panel discussion titled “Challenges and possible solutions in the management of mixed migrations and the asylum system in the Republic of Serbia”, Mila Djurdjevic of the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs highlighted the importance of cooperation between relevant authorities, as well as with the non-governmental sector in the process of tackling the migrant crisis in Serbia. She added that, despite there being about 6000 refugees on the territory of Serbia, it is paramount to remove them from the national borders and informal gathering places to temporary or permanent reception centres.
Ivan Gerginov of the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration said that, though a transit country, Serbia’s treatment of the migrants has since the beginning of the crisis been humane and efficient. Speaking of housing capacities, he stressed that Serbia has 19 fully equipped reception centres.
Representative of the Ministry of the Interior Jasmina Lalic spoke about the new Draft Law on Asylum and Temporary Protection which has received positive assessments from the European Commission and which will regulate the asylum-seekers’ status issues in more detail and improve the overall system of asylum in Serbia. She said that the law will be accompanied by a new decree on tolerated stay which will resolve the status of refugees who do not seek asylum in the Republic of Serbia.
Deputy Ombudsman Milos Jankovic said that Serbia has taken a liberal approach to the migrants and acted according to EU standards, meaning freedom of movement and open state borders. He stressed that the institution of Ombudsman had outlined the negative aspects of this approach to the authorities in view of the increased smuggling of humans and illegal crossings.
Speaking of the Draft Law on Asylum and Temporary Protection, Ljubimka Mitrovic stressed that UNHCR has given recommendations as regards the integration of persons who had exercised their right to asylum and guidelines for the authorities how to act in case of detention which can only be the last justified legal measure. She added that it is crucial to resolve the issue of mounting numbers of unaccompanied children or children without parents through integration, such as housing in foster families, schooling and the similar.
Concluding the debate, Nikola Kovacevic of the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights commended the authorities for recognising the importance of cooperation with the non-governmental sector in the preparation of the Draft Law on Asylum and Temporary Protection and Draft Law on Foreigners which will systemically address the situation caused by the migrant crisis.
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