24 March 2016

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) has published a new country report on Serbia, written by the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, detailing the workings of the Serbian asylum system, set out by the Law on Asylum of 2007 and relevant legislation. While legislation is deemed to be generally in line with international standards, its poor implementation accounts for deficiencies in the procedure and treatment of asylum seekers, the report states.

Throughout the summer, there was a significant rise in the number of persons “expressing the intention to seek asylum” in Serbia. This status requires prospective applicants to report to one of the five Asylum Centres in the country within 72 hours, with a view to undergoing registration and submitting their asylum application. Out of 577,995 intentions to seek asylum expressed in 2015, only 583 resulted in submitted applications.

However, in September 2015, Serbia introduced a special legal status for persons transiting through the country with the intention of travelling on to other countries. These people were issued with “certificates for migrants coming from countries where their lives are in danger”. This measure has visibly led to a decrease in the number of persons expressing the intention to seek asylum in Serbia, as only 475 such intentions were expressed in the course of January 2016.

Serbia has offered limited protection to those fleeing persecution or serious harm so far. Since the establishment of the Asylum Office in 2008, only 48 persons have been granted international protection; 30 of those were recognised in 2015. International protection has been granted mainly to Syrian, Libyan and Ukrainian nationals. The report also highlights barriers to access to protection, including denial of access to the procedure for asylum seekers returned from Hungary.

This article will appear in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 25 March 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.