“It is better to play real table tennis with a colleague, rather than shifting responsibility for the economic and social rights of citizens from one ministry to the another.”
On the occasion of the Human Rights Day marked on December 10, the Initiative for Economic and Social Rights ( A 11 Initiative) gave as present ping pong rackets to the ministers in the Government of Serbia, Gordana Čomić and Dr Darija Kisić Tepavčević. The ministers received one racket each and a set of ping pong balls with the words – health, housing, education, social protection and work written on them. The A 11 Initiative presented this sports equipment to the ministers in charge of human rights (Čomić) and labor, employment, veterans and social issues (Dr Kisić Tepavčević), aiming at pointing out that the ministers in charge of these issues have so far shifted responsibility for economic and social rights of citizens from one to the other, thus playing ping pong with our human rights.
“The right to work, affordable housing, timely and adequate health care, social protection if needed, and education – are basic economic and social rights that are also our human rights, guaranteed by the Constitution and laws,” the A 11 Initiative said on this occasion.
In a letter submitted to the ministers, the A 11 Initiative reminded that two years ago it asked the Government of Serbia to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which would enable Serbian citizens to protect their rights before the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The former Office for Human and Minority Rights, which was in charge of this issue, forwarded this initiative to the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, which rejected this proposal without a single word of explanation.
“What the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg represents for the protection of civil and political rights, the same represents the UN Committee on Economic and Social Rights for the protection of economic and social rights, and we believe that Serbian citizens have the right to this level of international protection of rights. It is not clear why the state of Serbia denies its citizens this opportunity”, state in the above letter of the A 11 Initiative.
“In the hope that you will play ping pong with your colleague from the Government of Serbia and not shift back and forth competencies from one department to another, we are giving you a table tennis racket,” reads the letter of A 11 Initiative.
Along with this gift, the ministers were provided with the document “What does the signing and ratification of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights bring us?” Moreover, the A 11 Initiative offered assistance and cooperation to improve the protection of economic and social rights of citizens of Serbia.