In the procedure that was initiated on the basis of the complaint submitted by A 11 Initiative, the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality issued an opinion stating that the city of Smederevo breached article 7 of the Law on Discrimination, by failing to include internally displaced women into the Decision on financial assistance to pregnant women and mothers.
Article 2 of the Decision on financial assistance to pregnant women and mothers adopted by the Smederevo City Assembly states that a “pregnant woman obtains the right to financial assistance if she (or her partner) has and has had permanent residence in the City of Smederevo for at least one year prior to the submission of the request […]”. Additionally, according to article 7 of the same Decision, “the mother of every newborn child” obtains the right to financial assistance “under the condition that on the day of birth of the child, the mother has permanent residence on the territory of Smederevo […]“. This Decision puts pregnant women and mothers who, as internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Kosovo, have registered temporary residence on the territory of Smederevo, in an unequal position.
As the A 11 Initiative stated in the complaint, the conditions for accessing the right to financial support for pregnant women and mothers, primarily those related to the registration of permanent residence, effectively place an entire group of women at a disadvantage to the rest of the population on the basis of their personal characteristics. Therefore, IDPs with registered temporary residence on the territory of the City of Smederevo were indirectly discriminated against.
In her Opinion, the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality states that during the procedure it was determined that this seemingly neutral requirement of permanent residence on the territory of the City of Smederevo provided for in the Decision, excludes pregnant women and mothers with IDP status who, as a result of said status, cannot fulfill the above mentioned requirements.
It is important to mention that, according to the data provided by the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia, there are 8031 IDPs from Kosovo in Smederevo, which represents 7.42% of the entire city population. IDPs from Kosovo can retain their IDP status only if they register temporary residence, which enables them to participate in various integration programs implemented by the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia, including those related to housing as one of the most important components of these programs.
Although the President of the Smederevo City Assembly stated in her statement on the complaint that the allegations were unfounded, the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality recommended to the Smederevo City Assembly to “take all measures within its competence to make the Decision on financial assistance to pregnant women and mothers applicable to internally displaced persons residing in the territory of the city of Smederevo ”.
The deadline for acting upon the recommendation is thirty days.