24 Oct Four years of forced labour in Serbia: The results of the application of the Decree on Social Inclusion Measures for Recipients of Financial Social Assistance
Exactly four years ago, the Decree on Social Inclusion Measures for Recipients of Financial Social Assistance came into force. The Decree prescribes, among other things, that able-bodied financial social assistance recipients must do community service in their local communities in order to keep receiving the financial assistance that they do. Due to this, the A 11 – Initiative for Economic and Social Rights implemented a study on the application of the Decree.
Results show that the measures did not result in the employment of the recipients, rather that they only introduced new obligations that violate the dignity and stigmatise the said users, violate the principles of social justice and create obstacles in the realisation of the rights of the most vulnerable citizens in Serbia.
In late 2014 three initiatives for the assessment of the constitutionality of the Decree on Social Inclusion Measures for Recipients of Financial Social Assistance were submitted, while the Ombudsman also filled a proposal for the assessment of the constitutionality of the same Decree. The Constitutional Court has not addressed this issue to this day. The Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs intended to make the provisions of the Decree part of the legal norm, i.e. that the implementation of the activation measures be another precondition for realising the right to social assistance. The application of the Decree on Social Inclusion Measures for Recipients of Financial Social Assistance is another in the line of indicators of the erosion of social rights in Serbia. Institutions must prevent the growing inequalities and the abolition of guaranteed rights. Four years have passed since the initiatives were submitted and that the Constitutional Court has not yet made its stance clear. However, it must resolve this legal conundrum and prevent further violations of the Constitution and ratified international treaties.
In the meantime, we expect the Government of the Republic of Serbia to finally come to an understanding of the kinds of consequences these measures entail and prevent further deterioration of citizens’ social rights.