Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions

Serbia

Country Report: Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions Last updated: 23/03/21

Author

Nikola Kovačević

The CRM is mandated with providing material reception conditions to asylum seekers and persons granted asylum in Serbia.[1]

In the course of asylum procedure, asylum seekers are entitled to be accommodated in one of the 5 Asylum Centres or other designated facility established for that purpose.[2] These other facilities are 13 Reception Centres which were functional during 2020 (see Types of Accommodation).[3]

Persons issued with a registration certificate are expected to present themselves at the centre indicated via a central mechanism between the Ministry of Interior and the CRM so as to be registered and lodge their asylum application. At the point of reception, the Commissariat shall confirm reception by indicating it in the registration certificate.[4]

Unlike in 2019, in 2020, the vast majority of foreigners accommodated in Asylum Centres and Reception Centres did not have any legal status. The reason for this is that the most of them are not genuinely interested in staying in Serbia and to apply for asylum and thus did not lodge asylum application. However, genuine asylum seekers are very often accommodated in Reception Centres where they have to wait for up to several weeks before they are transferred to one of the Asylum Centres where they would be allowed to lodge an asylum application (see Registration).

In the vast majority of reception centres there were persons who are not issued with the registration certificates, nor do they enjoy any other status in line with the Foreigners Act or other legislation. Thus, their stay is tolerated by the CRM. For instance, a lot of people who are staying in the Western camps (Adaševci, Šid and Principovci) or Northern camps (Subotica, Sombor or Kikinda) are not registered, or their certificates have expired, but they are attempting to cross the border with Croatia, Hungary or Romania on a daily basis. Their legal status is unregulated, and for that reason, they can be subject to different arbitrary practices such as denial of access to the reception centre during the night or denial of access to food or even medical care. Also, there is a significant number of persons who are residing in the informal settlements in Belgrade and border areas with Croatia, Hungary and Romania. Many of them are UASC.[5] They sleep in tents or abandoned facilities deprived of the existential minimum.

In principle, every foreigner has the possibility to be accommodated in one of the reception facilities. Those who have clear aspirations to attempt to irregularly cross to Croatia, Hungary and Romania are usually allowed to reside in the Reception Centres close to the border with said countries. UASC are all placed in Sjenica and Bogovađa Asylum Centres.

If the asylum seeker possesses his or her own financial assets, he or she may stay outside the reception facilities at his or her own cost, and exclusively with prior consent of the Asylum Office, which shall be given after the asylum application has been lodged. Exceptionally, consent may also be given beforehand, if that is required for reasons of security of a foreigner whose intention to seek asylum has been registered.[6] Thus, in practice, the asylum seeker usually has to wait to lodge an asylum application and then submit the request to stay at a private address which will be included in his or her ID card as a place of his or her residence. The living conditions in many Asylum and Reception centres are unsatisfactory. On 10 January 2021, 124 refugees and asylum seekers were residing on private address, while 34 UASCs were accommodated in social care institutions designated for children.[7]

 

[1]           Article 23 Asylum Act; Chapters II and III Migration Management Act.

[2]           Article 51(1) Asylum Act.

[3]           RC Dimitrovgrad was not operational during 2020.

[4]           Article 35(12) Asylum Act.

[5]           UNHCR Statistical Report for 10 January 2021 highlighted that 1,354 persons were spotted in informal settlements.

[6]           Article 50(8) Asylum Act.

[7]           UNHCR Statistical Report for 10 January 2021

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection