Recommendation to the Ministry of Justice and the Chamber of Public Notaries of Serbia due to the unequal treatment of undocumented persons

In its work, the A 11 Initiative has noticed that when verifying the identity and signature of undocumented persons, there are different applications of the Public Notary Tariff. Thus, in situations where the identity of a person should be confirmed by two identity witnesses, sometimes they are considered to be witnesses upon request, instead of identity witnesses, which leads to an increase in the remuneration and higher costs applied for already materially disadvantaged citizens.

Since persons without personal documents are most often members of the Roma national minority, belonging to a multiply marginalized social group, and they need signature verification to exercise other rights, the A 11 Initiative, after unsuccessful attempts to point out the harmfulness of this uneven practice to the Ministry of Justice and the Chamber of Public Notaries, eventually addressed the Commissioner for Protection of Equality.

After looking at all the circumstances of this practice, in the recommendation of measures for achieving equality and protection against discrimination, which the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality sent to the Ministry of Justice and the Chamber of Public Notaries of Serbia, it is emphasized that it is necessary to take necessary measures when it comes to prescribing the amount of notaries’ fees for verifying the signatures of persons without documents by examining identity witnesses, taking into account the fact that undocumented persons belong to the category of the most vulnerable persons, as well as to take measures to properly apply the law, according to which notaries are obliged to determine the identity of persons who do not have an identification document by examining two identity witnesses.

In her recommendation, the Commissioner stated that because of the fact that they do not have documents, the undocumented persons are not able to prove their poor financial situation and exercise the right to the foreseen exemptions or reductions of the amount of notaries’ fees.

Considering that the procedures carried out by public notaries are prerequisites for conducting other procedures that should result in obtaining personal documents of the most vulnerable citizens, through administrative or judicial procedures, the Commissioner made this recommendation with the aim of improving their position and reducing discrimination.

The A 11 Initiative will monitor the implementation of this recommendation and will strive to continue working to improve the position of undocumented persons in Serbia.