Igman Initiative: Dayton Countires Need to Harmonize Citizenship Legislation31. January 2012 - 12:28 — Dejan Georgievski
The expert team of the Igman Initiative project “Status and Property Issues of Citizens as a Consequence of the Disintegration of Yugoslavia” noted, in its last meeting, that unresolved status and property issues of refugees remain a big problem in the functioning of this category of citizens in the countries of the Dayton Agreement (Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro).
The team also concluded that non-harmonized legislation, frequently discriminating policies and difficulties in obtaining documentation are the main problems which need to be resolved in each individual country and on the regional level.
Ratko Bubalo from the Humanitarian Centre for Integration and Tolerance from Novi Sad, coordinator of the expert team, said that huge amount of information and analyses held by institutions of the countries of the Dayton quadrangle and the civil sector organizations were collated, which proved to be a valuable approach, enabling the team to shed light on those issues from the aspect of the involved institutions, as well as the civil society which maintains its autonomous critical position, necessary to consider all these problems as a whole.
Out of 2 million of refugees and displaced persons in the countries signatories to the Dayton Agreement, a part of them solved the issue of citizenship, with a significant number of those with unresolved status, which result in numerous problems, primarily property-related issues and labour-related vested rights.
Boris Kneževič, member of the expert team and legal advisor at the Civic Committee for Human Rights from Zagreb says that in practice, one of the key problems is the process of obtaining of documents, with the state state bureaucracy in charge of the subject national records unnecessarily, and even illegally, asking from people to present documentation it already holds, in spite of the existence of a “developed information system comprising almost all status issues in the country.
Branislav Radulović from the Association of Lawyers of Montenegro, finds the issue of dual citizenship a key to resolving issues the project is dealing with. He points out that it is necessary to eliminate the ethnic approach, which is currently the practice of Serbian and Croatian legislature, and only after that “liberalization in exercising the right to citizenship for all citizens on the territory of the countries signatories to the Dayton Agreement“ could be expected.
According to Bubalo, expert team activities are about to define recommendations taking as a point of departure “equal legal standards and principles for open issues in all countries of the region.
“Such approach relies on international and European standards in the sphere of human rights“, says Bubalo.
Tanja Bakalbašić, coordinator of the project implementation in Montenegro, noted that it was encouraging that all competent ministries and state institutions in the four countries are involved in the process of harmonization of legislation in the area of fundamental human rights and that by cooperation with expert and project team members they manifest a political will to solve these problems.
Aleksandra Popov, project supervisor and assistant at the Novi Sad-based Centre for Regionalism, the lead organization for the project supported by the EU Directorate in Brussels, said that the White Paper with the findings and recommendations of the expert team is close to completion and will be submitted to the governments of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, and to the institutions of the European Union. (Source: Igman Initiative)
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