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Recents News on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

Serbia: early publication of the 2nd cycle opinion

25. June 2009


The Opinion of the Council of Europe Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) on Serbia has been made public by the Government. The Advisory Committee adopted this Opinion in March 2009 following a country visit in November 2008.

Summary of the Opinion:

"Since the adoption of the Advisory Committee's first Opinion in November 2003, the Serbian authorities adopted a new Constitution in 2006 which includes a commendable chapter on national minority protection. A new Criminal Code was adopted with some important provisions in the field of non-discrimination. The State level Ombudsman has started his work, with promising initiatives to be launched in thefield of monitoring minority protection in all regions of Serbia. The commitment shown by the recently established Ministry of Human and Minority Rights in pursuing reform is encouraging.

Opportunities for persons belonging to national minorities to learn their languages have been expanded in certain areas of Serbia and some further measures to display traditional names and topographical indications have been taken. The national minority councils established so far have started to play an active role in articulating minorities' interests, despite the legal vacuum regarding their role and activities.

The delay in adopting some pending legislation, including the law on the national minority councils, over the last five years has caused legitimate concerns and, on the whole, the pace of reform in the area of minority protection, has slowed down. The changes introduced to the legislative framework with regard to minority media have been marked by a lack of consistency and as a result, have created confusion.

In the field of education, the optional character of minority language teaching requires further discussion with representatives of national minorities. The problems encountered with regard to the recognition of diplomas from educational institutions from the region still complicate the access to education of certain persons belonging to national minorities.

It is crucial that the future National Strategy on Roma address vigorously the difficulties encountered by the Roma in accessing employment, education, housing and health care and that their lack of personal documentation is tackled as a matter of priority."

Note: The Framework Convention is ratified by 39 States. The Convention includes a monitoring system, whereby the Committee of Ministers, assisted by an advisory committee, evaluates the adequacy of the Convention's implementation. The Opinions of the Advisory Committee are made public upon the adoption of the Committee of Ministers' resolution but can be made public at an earlier stage at the country's initiative.













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