Another example of the criminalization of poverty: Roma registered as baggage porters prevented from working at the Belgrade Bus Station

Belgrade, on July 17, 2019, Roma who are registered as baggage porters were prevented by the Belgrade Bus Station (BBS) security and the police from accessing the arrivals platform of the bus station.

Baggage porters that have been working at the BBS are registered entrepreneurs in the Agency for Business Registers, while they pay access to platforms via monthly tickets that cost 1,500.00 dinars. However, since the arrivals platforms were relocated, they have been prevented from buying these tickets, and security forbids them entry to the arrivals platforms, while their explanation for this is that “Roma cannot work here anymore.”

 The A 11 Initiative addressed the BBS director, Mr Mučibabić with a plea to mediate in resolving this problem, especially since this is a potential case of racial discrimination.

As the BBS director did not respond to mails and numerous phone calls for 10 days, we are forced to inform the public of the actions of this company.

On Friday, 12 July 2019 the A 11 Initiative activists witnessed the incident when police officers B. and J. forced a baggage porter to leave the platform under the pretense that he does not have “authorized access to the station.” When the A 11 Initiative activists asked for the reasons for expelling the person from the station, they received an answer that the officer are acting in accordance with their orders, and that the address for any and all solutions is the BBS director. The following day, 13 July 2019, police officer T. confiscated the cart of one of the baggage porters, issuing him a certificate on seized items.                                                                                                                                                               

The racial discrimination of Roma baggage porters working at the BBS in unacceptable. Regular, everyday pressures by police officers and BBS security lead towards the criminalization of their work and the poverty they live in and further marginalizes them. 

Therefore, we demand that the Police Directorate of the City of Belgrade inform the public on the reasons why it is assisting BBS in preventing access to workstations to baggage porters, and that it ceases this practice immediately. We demand that the BBS issue a public apology to baggage porters and that they allow them to work, without obstruction, at the arrivals platform.

The A 11 Initiative will continue to monitor the actions of the BBS and the police, as well as continue to represent the interests of baggage porters.