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A. UN Convention status
A1. Ratification or conclusion of the UN Convention
Serbia signed the UN CRPD on 17 December 2007. The Parliament ratified the Convention on the Sixth regular meeting of spring session of the National Parliament on 29 May 2009. The Law on Ratification of the CRPD was published in the 'Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia - International Treaties' No 42/2009 on 2 June 2009 and entered into force on the eighth day of its publication.
A2. Ratification or accession to the Optional Protocol
Serbia signed the Optional Protocol to UNCRPD on 17 December 2007. The Parliament ratified the Optional Protocol on the Sixth regular meeting of spring session of the National Parliament on 29 May 2009. The Law on ratification of the Optional Protocol to CRPD was published in the 'Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia - International Treaties' No 42/2009 on 2 June 2009 and entered into force on the eighth day of its publication.
A3. Declarations, Reservations and Objections
There are no declarations, reservations or objection to the CRPD or Optional Protocol by Republic of Serbia.
A4. Comprehensive review
The Department of Support to Persons with Disability the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and The National Organisation of Persons with Disabilities of Serbia published the Guide to the rights of persons with disabilities in the Republic of Serbia. The first edition was published in May 2008, and the second edition in February 2011. The second edition provides information about the rights of persons with disabilities and the conditions for their realization, the use of the services of institutions in all systems of protection according to the laws of the Republic of Serbia - social security, health protection, legal protection of children and the families, education system, labour and employment, pension and disability insurance, transportation, housing, prevention of discrimination etc.
In 2015, the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Policy and the National Organisation of Persons with Disabilities of Serbia published the new Guide on the rights of persons with disabilities in the Republic of Serbia. This Guide contains all relevant information on guaranteed rights of persons with disabilities in all spheres of life (i.e. health care, social protection, education, employment, etc.).
A5. Focal point
The Office for Human and Minority Rights was established by the Government of the Republic of Serbia in August 2012 as the governmental service responsible, among other activities, for monitoring the compliance of national regulations with international treaties and other international acts on human and minority rights, and initiating amendments to national regulations. The Office coordinates the preparation of national reports on the implementation of eight key international human rights treaties ratified by the Republic of Serbia, including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the appearance of the state delegation in front of the relevant Committee.
At the end of 2014 the Republic of Serbia Government established the Council for monitoring of implementation of the UN human rights mechanisms recommendations, for the period of five years (Decision on establishment of the Council for monitoring of implementation of the UN human rights mechanisms recommendations “Official gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 140/2014).
Tasks of this Council are as follows:
- To consider and monitor the implementation of recommendations submitted to the Republic of Serbia within the process of Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council and recommendations of the UN treaty bodies
- To propose measures for the implementation of the received recommendations;
- To give opinion on progress of human rights during the reporting period; and
- To provide professional elaborations on condition of human rights and the achieved results through implementation of the recommendations.
The Council prepared the Plan for the implementation of recommendations. The Plan is made in a matrix format with the following information:
- All of the received recommendations from nine the UN mechanisms
- The institution/authority with competence for implementation of the concrete recommendations
- Status of compliance with the recommendations
- Dynamic of compliance with the recommendations
- Link to the UN Agenda 2030
An overview of the recommendations and the current status of their compliance will enable to further improve coordination during the implementation of these recommendations, enhance the procedure of preparation of periodic reports for the UN treaty bodies, and improve communication with other relevant stakeholders. The CRPD Committee recommendations are integral part of the Plan for implementation of the recommendations.
A6. Coordination mechanism
The Council for Persons with Disabilities of the Government of the Republic of Serbia was initiated in 2002 and officially established by the Government in 2005, following the proposal of the Disability Department at the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (now: the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Policy). The Council consists of the representatives of relevant ministries and national organisations of persons with disabilities. It is an expert and advisory body on the social and economic status of persons with disabilities and initiates: coordination with state authorities in the process of adopting regulations; implementation of laws and regulations on the protection of persons with disabilities; ratification of international documents in the field of protection of persons with disabilities; establishment and implementation of cooperation with international organisations dealing with the protection of persons with disabilities. The mandate of the Council is four years, and the last Decision on the establishment of the Council was adopted by the Government in March 2013 (published in the "Official Gazette of RS", No. 28/2013). The latest Council includes only five representatives of persons with disabilities from traditional organisations, representing persons with disabilities by the type of disability.
A7. Independent mechanism
There is no independent monitoring mechanism established for the CRPD in the Republic of Serbia. The Law on Prohibition of Discrimination established an independent body – the Commissioner for Protection of Equality - and provides the mechanism of filing a complaint based on discrimination on the grounds of disability. The Law on the Ombudsman provides for a possibility to file a complaint to the Ombudsman in cases of violations of rights by governmental institutions and bodies and public companies. There is a deputy Ombudsman for persons with disabilities and elderly, and the Ombudsman’s Council for persons with disabilities and elderly, consisted of various experts and activists from disability movement. In addition, both independent institutions, the Ombudsman and the Commissioner for Protection of Equality provides opinions and recommendations on current legislation and law proposals.
A8. Official reporting
The Republic of Serbia was due to submit the Initial report on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in August 2011. The report was prepared under the coordination of the Directorate for Human and Minority Rights (Ministry for Human and Minority Rights at that time), with the input from relevant ministries, state institutions and non-governmental and disabled people's organisations.
The Government adopted the Initial report on 10 May 2012, submitted it to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and officially published it on 19 June 2012. It was deposited at the UN on 21 June 2014.
In July 2015 the National Organisation of Persons with Disabilities of Serbia (NOOIS) in partnership with CIL Serbia and the Centre for Society Orientation (COD) – Disability Rights Promotion, International Regional Centre for Europe submitted the Shadow report to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It covered Articles 5-7, 9, 11-13, 19, 20, 24, 27-29, 31, 33 of the UN CRPD. The UN Committee created the List of issues in relation to the initial report of Serbia on 11 September 2015, which was responded by the State on 2 February 2016. NOOIS and partners sent summary review of responses to Additional Questions of the CRPD related to the Initial Report of the Republic of Serbia on the implementation of the CRPD in March 2016. The Committee discussed the issues with the state, the NOOIS delegation, other NGOs and the Ombudsman on 5 and 6 April 2016 and adopted the Concluded Observations on 10 April 2016, which are all included in the Draft New National Strategy for Improvement of the Status of Persons with Disabilities. In addition, it resulted in the equalisation of the length of sentences for the act of rape of persons with and without disabilities. However, two separate criminal offences still exist, namely in Article 178 (rape) and in Article 179 (sexual intercourse with a helpless person) of the Criminal Code ("Official Gazette of the RS", No. 85/2005, 88/2005 - corr., 107/2005 - corr., 72/2009, 111/2009, 121/2012, 104/2013, 108/2014 and 94/2016).
On 11 May 2017, the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted the report on the implementation of the Committee recommendation 34 to prohibit medical interventions without the prior consent of persons with disabilities and to provide sufficient remedies and compensation to those subjected to such procedures and recommendation 54 to 'review the practice of the application of law to make sure legislation is not disadvantageous for persons with disabilities in terms of employment and labour market participation'. The state was requested to inform the Committee (in a written form) on the implemented measures within a period of 12 months according to Article 35(2) of the UN Convention. The report brings relevant statistical data on active employment measures and professional rehabilitation of persons with disabilities in 2017, but it does not indicate enough on the structural changes.
A9. Shadow reporting
No report from civil society was submitted to the UN Committee in parallel to the initial state report in 2012. However, in 2013, the Mental Disability Rights Initiative of Serbia (MDRI-S) published the report 'Practicing Universality of Rights: analysis of the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in view of persons with intellectual disabilities in Serbia' and is leading an informal Coalition for Deinstitutionalisation (mostly human rights NGOs) working on independent monitoring and reporting on deinstitutionalisation and legal capacity issues. The Centre for Society Orientation published 'Monitoring of Disability Laws and Policies' and the 'Holistic report - Monitor your rights!' as a part of the Disability Rights Promotion International (DRPI) project. The Holistic report focused on five areas: 1) accessibility – physical and information and communication; 2) welfare system; 3) education; 4) work and employment; and 5) health protection.
In July 2015 the National Organisation of Persons with Disabilities of Serbia (NOOIS) in partnership with CIL Serbia and the Centre for Society Orientation (COD) – Disability Rights Promotion, International Regional Centre for Europe submitted the Shadow Report to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
In addition, the MDRI-S submitted its Shadow report on 31 July 2015, which focuses primarily on the situation of persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities, but viewed from the overall national context in relation to persons with disabilities and protection from discrimination. The report recognizes the crosscutting issue of legal capacity, in particular, its link to the right to liberty, freedom from ill-treatment, torture, violence and abuse.
The Protector of Citizens (the Ombudsman), which is a NHRI with A status, submitted its report on 3 August 2015. The report concerns four specific rights which are sorted according to the relevant articles in the CRPD, namely accessibility (Art. 9), living independently and being included in the community (Art. 19), personal mobility (Art. 20) and work and employment (Art. 27).
Furthermore, Disability Council International submitted report in August 2015, focusing on Articles 12, 14, 15, 23 and 33 of the CRPD.
Finally, the MDRI-S made Submission for country briefing on 4 March 2016, focusing on information on institution 'Dom Veternik' in Serbia acquired by monitoring visits and reports done by MDRI-S and the National Preventive Mechanism. This submission addressed the urgent issue of children and adults with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities detained in this residential institution.
The Shadow Reports directly impacted on the recommendations of the UN Committee and on the following legislative changes. However, the issues of legal capacity, accessibility and social inclusion as part of social development are still a challenge for all stakeholders despite the strategies and action plans which are mostly aligned with the CRPD.
In the meanwhile, organisation ACED (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in partnership with IC LOTOS (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Union of Paraplegics (Montenegro) and CIL Serbia published the Report on the Compliance of Legislative and Institutional Framework in the Republic of Serbia with the CRPD and Recommendations for Harmonization in 2014 and the Report on the Compliance of Legislative and Institutional Framework in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro with CRPD and Recommendations for Harmonization in 2015.
In June 2016, Human Rights Watch published a report on the status of children with disabilities in Serbian institutions titled 'It is My Dream to Leave this Place' which was sent to the UN Committee.
B. General legal framework
B1. Anti-discrimination legislation
The Constitution of the Republic of Serbia in its Article 21 'Prohibition of discrimination' proclaims that "everyone is equal before the Constitution and the law and shall have the right to equal legal protection, without discrimination." Under the Constitution, all direct or indirect discrimination based on any grounds, particularly on race, sex, national origin, social origin, birth, religion, political or other opinion, property status, culture, language, age, mental or physical disability shall be prohibited. Special measures which the Republic of Serbia may introduce to achieve full equality of individuals or group of individuals in a substantially unequal position compared to other citizens shall not be considered discrimination.
The Law on the Prevention of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities, adopted on 17 April 2006 ("Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia", No. 33/2006) was created following the UN Standard Rules on the Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and, at that time, the draft version of the CRPD. It recognizes and prohibits direct and indirect discrimination, and violation of the principle of equal rights and obligations. In addition, it identifies severe and special cases of discrimination in the following spheres of life: proceedings before public authorities, membership in associations, access to facilities, public areas and services, health care services, education, employment and labour relations, access to public transport, marital and family relations. It prescribes actions to be taken to improve the status of persons with disabilities, members of their families and associations that are provided with special support necessary for exercising rights under the same conditions as for others, and contains provisions obliging state and local self-government bodies to undertake special measures to encourage equality of persons with disabilities (Art. 32–38) and entitles persons with disabilities to file lawsuits against the competent institutions that have failed to introduce such measures.
In 2016, the Law Amending the Law on the Prevention of Discrimination of Persons with Disabilities (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 13/16) was adopted, introducing provisions regulating the use of seal with an engraved signature for persons with disabilities.
The Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination ("Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia", No. 22/2009), states that discrimination shall be considered to exist in case of conduct contrary to the principle of respect for the equal rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities in political, economic, cultural and other aspects of public, professional, private and family life (Article 26 - Discrimination of persons with disabilities). The Law prescribes judicial protection and provides the opportunity for lawsuits to be initiated by the Commissioner and an organisation engaged in the protection of human rights or the rights of a certain group of people. In addition to the Law on the Prevention of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities, it provides the mechanism to verify the existence of discrimination (Article 46) and provides for the shifting of the burden of proof.
The Strategy for the Prevention and Protection against Discrimination was adopted in June 2013 and it aims at preventing discrimination and improving the situation of nine vulnerable groups, including persons with disabilities. The Strategy recognizes seven special objectives – areas for policy interventions regarding persons with disabilities: labour, employment and vocational training; personal status and family life; abuse and neglect; education; social and health care services; the use of public spaces; promotion of participation in political and public life and access to justice.
In the recent years, several other laws have been adopted in Serbia that contain articles that prohibit discrimination on the ground of, inter alia, disability, such as the Law on the Foundation of the Education System and Upbringing; the Labour Law; the Law on Social Protection; the Law on Health Care; the Law on Youth, etc.
B2. Recognition of legal capacity
The Constitution of the Republic of Serbia (Article 52) states that every person in Serbia has the right to legal recognition. With the age of majority (18), a person gains the capacity to independently decide on his or her rights and obligations. The basic regulations regarding legal capacity and guardianship are found in the Family Law (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 18/2005 and 72/2011) and in the Law on Non-Contentious Proceedings ("Official Gazette of the SFRJ" No. 25/82 and 48/88, "Official Gazette", no. 46/95 - other law 18/2005 - other law, 85/2012, 45/2013 - other law 55/2014, 6/2015 and 106/2015 - other law). The Family Law recognizes three types of limitations to the exercise of legal capacity: full deprivation of legal capacity; partial deprivation of legal capacity; and extension of parental rights. According to the Law, adults shall be fully deprived of legal capacity in the event they are “incapable of sound reasoning due to an illness or psycho-physical developmental difficulties and are thus incapable of caring for themselves and protecting their rights and interests”. Legal capacity of these persons is equal to the legal capacity of a younger minor (children below the age of 14). The law also states that an adult person who, as a result of illness or difficulties in psychological or physical development, “directly threatens his or her own rights and interests or the rights and interests of other persons” may be partially deprived of his or her legal capacity. Legal capacity of these persons is equal to that of an older minor (children between the age of 14 and 18). Parental rights may be extended before a child reaches the legal age of majority if a child “is incapable of taking care of and protecting his or her rights, or if he/she threatens his or her rights and interests through his or her actions, as a result of illness or difficulties in psychological or physical development”, which in practice is equal to full deprivation of legal capacity.
The reinstatement of legal capacity is possible if the reasons for deprivation cease to exist. Also, extended parental rights can be terminated when the reasons for such extension cease to exist.
Persons fully deprived of their legal capacity may undertake only legal actions of minor significance and cannot undertake any legal actions by which they are assigned rights or obligations – deprivation automatically affects decision-making in many different areas of life and forbids exercising significant number of rights regulated by the Family Law (e.g. entering into marriage and exercising parental rights) and other laws such as: the Law on Health Protection (deciding on medical procedures); the Law on Organ Transplantation (receiving an organ transplant); the Law on Citizenship in the Republic of Serbia; the Law on Social Protection; the Law on Obligation Relations (entering into contracts, which by default prevents employment and buying or selling of property); the Law on the Election of the President of the Republic; the Law on Volunteering, etc. The full list of laws, by-laws and other regulations related to the legal capacity was published by the MDRI-S. Also, during 2016, the MDRI-S issued two important publications: 'Legal Capacity – Court Practice and Laws in Serbia' and 'Guidelines for Judges in the cases of legal capacity deprivation'.
B3. Accessibility of voting and elections
In the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, under Article 52 (Electoral right), every citizen of the age of majority and with legal capacity shall have the right to vote and to be elected, and suffrage shall be universal and equal for all. The Law on the Elections of Members of Parliament (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 35/2000,57/2003 – decision of the Constitutional Court, 72/2003 – other law, 75/2003 – correction other law, 18/2004, 101/2005 – other law, 85/2005 – other law, 104/2009 – other law, 28/2011 – decision of the Constitutional Court, and 36/2011) defines the rights of those unable to vote at polling stations ('blind, disabled or illiterate person') to bring a person who shall instead of him/her, in the manner determined by him/her, fill out the ballot. Also, the Law prescribes the right to vote outside the voting place, with the same opportunity for assistance with filling in the ballot. The Law on Local Elections (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 129/2007, 34/2010 – decision of the Constitutional Court and 54/2011) requires the Election Commission to determine voting places, taking into account the equal distribution of voters and accessibility. According to the Law on Unique Voters Registration List (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 104/2009 and 99/2011), citizens can vote in accordance with a place of temporary residence (as opposed to previous regulation that required voters to register according to their permanent residence), which in theory provides the right for persons living in health and social protection institutions to vote (although they would need to go to the municipal administration to register). In March 2012 (in a campaign prior to the May 2012 elections), the Ombudsman issued recommendations to all State organs responsible for organising elections to provide physical access to voting places, election materials in Braille (candidate lists, ballots, etc.) and all relevant information interpreted in sign language or simultaneously written texts. In addition, the Ombudsman recommended to local governments and election committees to update voters registration lists considering the residents of institutions and to organize voting in those institutions if necessary.
In 2016, the Centre for Independent Living for Persons with Disabilities issued a publication with recommendations for improvement of the voting rights of persons with disabilities.
B4. Official recognition of sign language
In April 2015, the Law on the Use of Sign Language was adopted (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 29/2015) with the aim to equalize opportunities, promote accessibility and implement the rights of deaf people. This Law contributes to the realization of different fundamental principles related to the exercise of the rights of deaf people and to the prohibition of discrimination. Special measures are introduced by this law with the purpose to achieve full equality of persons with disabilities with other citizens, as well as full inclusion of deaf people in decision-making related to the standardization and use of sign language. The Law regulates the right to learn sign language and the right to use the services of a sign language interpreter, measures for promoting the implementation and improvement in the use of sign language through information and education on sign language and other issues significant for its use.
Certain laws recognize the existence and purpose of Sign language. It has been officially recognized through the Law on Foundation of Education System and Upbringing, which requires that the education of persons using sign language, i.e. special alphabet or other technical solutions, shall be provided in sign language. According to the Law on Higher Education, a higher education institution may organise and implement studies and/or certain parts of studies in sign language for students with hearing impairments.
B5. National disability strategy and action plan
The Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Strategy for Improvement of the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the Republic of Serbia ("Official Gazette of the RS" No. 01/07) in 2006. The strategic objective of this document is the advancement of persons with disabilities to a position of equal citizenship and the enjoyment of full rights and responsibilities. The time period for achievement of general and specific objectives of this Strategy was defined for 2007-2015. The Action Plan for the Implementation of the Strategy for Improvement of the Status of Persons with Disabilities for 2013-2015 has been developed under the leadership of the National Organisation of Persons with Disabilities of Serbia and adopted in June 2013. The main tasks of the Strategy and the Action Plan were to define the objectives, measures and activities that will contribute to the social model and an approach based on human rights incorporated in measures that affect the issues of the status of persons with disabilities. The Strategy expired, but the new one has not been adopted yet, although the draft version is available from 2016.
C1. Transport accessibility
The Law on the Prevention of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities provides a general framework for anti-discrimination and a definition of discrimination on the ground of disability within transportation services and in all modes of transport (Article 27 - Discrimination in relation to transport), including refusal to carry the passenger with a disability, refusal of the crew of the vehicle to provide physical assistance to passengers with disabilities and determining the unfavourable conditions of transport for passengers with disabilities (in particular the payment terms).
The Law on Planning and Construction and The Regulation on Technical Accessibility Standards contain provisions on accessibility of railway and bus stations, bus stops and airports, as well as public spaces. The Law on Air Traffic contains provisions that regulate general obligation of airports for accessibility of ground services, such as assistance to passengers with disabilities, which must be provided without discrimination in the most suitable way for the needs of these passengers.
So far, there are only three railway stations in Serbia that are accessible to wheelchair users (out of five that are physically accessible) and that are equipped with ribbed rubber walking pads and orientation panels for blind persons (out of six that provide information to passengers in this format) - Belgrade, Novi Sad and Subotica. Guide dogs are recognised as companions/assistants and allowed, according to the Law on Movement with the help of a guide dog (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 29/2015). This law regulates the right of persons with disabilities to move with the help of a guide dog in all means of public transport, in all facilities and buildings for public use and at the workplace. Persons who are using the help of a guide dog have the right to free access and the right to stay on public areas such as traffic arteries, squares, green spaces, the right to access and stay at the workplace.
There is only one train accessible to wheelchair users (270/271 Belgrade – Praha hl.n. – Belgrade). The passengers using wheelchairs are given a special place in the coach technically equipped for their transport, reserved in advance, and are provided with the parking place for their vehicle and access without stairs through special mobile elevators that lift people in wheelchairs to enter the coach and exit from the coach.
In major cities such as Belgrade (the capital), Novi Sad, Nis, Kragujevac, the city administration organises 'specialized' transportation with accessible vans, which is only available for members of certain disabled people's associations, with limited capacities and coverage (e.g. not covering suburban municipalities within the city). While there are accessible (marked, low-floored) buses, trolleys and trams within public transportation networks in respective cities, many stops are not adjusted for proper use of accessible vehicles.
C2. Built environment accessibility
The Law on Planning and Construction ("Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia", No. 72/2009, 81/2009, 64/2010, 24/2011, 121/2012, 42/2013 – decision of the Constitutional Court, 50/2013 – decision of the Constitutional Court, 98/2013 – decision of the Constitutional Court, 132/2014 and 145/2014) defines standards of accessibility as “mandatory technical measures, standards and conditions of design, planning and construction which ensure unhindered movement and access for persons with disabilities, children and the elderly." It provides obligations, planning rules and professional supervision that include controls and check-ups on the quality of execution of all types of work and application of regulations, standards and technical norms, including standards of accessibility. The Minister prescribes in more detail the technical standards of accessibility. The Law also prescribes penalties for the investor and the responsible person if the access to the built facility for persons with disability is not provided, in compliance with accessibility standards.
The Regulation on Technical Accessibility Standards from 2012 ("Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 22/2015), provides the technical accessibility standards to ensure the unhindered movement of children, the elderly, people with walking impairments and persons with disabilities, developed urban-technical requirements for the planning of public space, traffic and pedestrian areas, access to buildings (residential, public, etc.), as well as special devices in them. Nevertheless, the Regulation was created and adopted without public discussion or any consultations with disabled people’s organisations or other relevant stakeholders from civil and professional sectors. This left the standards unclear or not developed at all in certain areas, such as improvement of accessibility of existing (already built) facilities and the parts that define the required content of an architectural project or accessibility standards for the elderly and children. The Ombudsman issued the Opinion that the Ministry of Urban Planning and Construction must harmonize this Regulation with the CRPD, the Law on the Prevention of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities and other positive legislation of Serbia.
In 2015, the new Regulation on Technical Accessibility Standards was adopted (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 22/2015), in which some of the previous omissions were corrected.
C3. ICT and Web accessibility
The Electronic Communications Law (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 44/2010, 60/2013 – decision of the Constitutional Court and 62/2014) bases the objectives and principles regulating relations in the field of electronic communications on ensuring the availability of universal service and ensuring the maximum benefit to all citizens in the Republic of Serbia, to meet the needs of specific social groups, including people with disabilities, the elderly and vulnerable customers. The Law calls for special measures for persons with disabilities and vulnerable customers to ensure equal opportunities for access to publicly available telephone services, including making calls to emergency services, information services and public telephone directories. According to the Electronic Communications Law, the Republic Agency for Electronic Communications may set specific requirements for securing the accessibility of certain electronic communications services for people with disabilities, and is responsible for analysis of requirements for ensuring equal opportunities to use services for persons with disabilities.
The Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance ("Official Gazette of the RS", No. 120/2004, 54/2007, 104/2009 and 36/2010) regulates the obligation of the state body to publish, at least annually, a directory with basic information about rules and decisions of state bodies regarding publicity of the body, which includes working hours, contact details, accessibility for persons with disabilities, access to sessions, permissibility of audio and video recording etc.
The Law on Electronic Media (“Official Gazette of the RS”, No. 83/2014 and 6/2016 – other law) prescribes improvement of the accessibility of the media services to persons with disabilities, prohibits hate speech (inter alia, based on disability), and obliges service providers to provide services accessible to visually and hearing impaired persons, according to existing financial and technical possibilities.
The Law on Public Media Service (“Official Gazette of the RS”, No. 83/2014, 103/2015 and 108/2016) mentions disability only in the context of exemption from the obligation to pay the radio-television subscription to public broadcasting services.
The National Broadcasting Agency – the National TV Channel (RTS) has increased the number of accessible programs in recent years. The TV show 'Place for Us' has been running for two years now, covering a wide range of disability related issues. This programme has sign language interpretation during all 30 minutes of broadcasting. Also, there is news with sign language interpretation on the National TV Channel every day for about 10 minutes. Since July 2011, in cooperation with the Association 'Homer' and the Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia, The Agency broadcasts once a month movies synchronized and adapted for the visually impaired and blind people. In addition, RTS provided sign language interpretation for the presidential candidates’ debate, as well as during other elections.
There are other TV stations with national or local broadcasting that have introduced the practice of having at least one news programme with sign language interpretation during the day and special programmes that are dealing with disability issues (such as the national RTV and Studio B that covers the wider area of the city of Belgrade).
D. Independent living
D1. Choice of living arrangements
The Law on Social Protection (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 24/2011), inter alia, envisages provision of support services for independent living in the community through organising personal assistance services at local level and supported housing, as well as through provision of various daily services, which include daily care and help in the household. Article 4 of this Law states that each individual has the right to the social protection indispensable for overcoming social and life barriers and enabling conditions for satisfying one’s basic life needs.
The Republic of Serbia generally proclaims that persons with disabilities have the right to live independently and to be included in the community.
There is no obligation for a person with disability to live in a particular living arrangement. However, support services are not developed well, so persons with disabilities often do not have other possibility. Persons with disabilities can be legally made to live in an institution by the decision of the competent centre for social welfare. In addition, if a person with disability is deprived of legal capacity, their guardian can consent (or decide) that a person is to be placed in an institution. Paradoxically, this is considered to be a voluntary placement.
The Law on Housing and Maintenance of Buildings (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 104/2016) prescribes that during the eviction or moving, public authorities have to take special care regarding the protection of, inter alia, persons with disabilities. It prescribes principles of housing support whereas support should be just and fair (i.e. recognising needs of persons with disabilities). Persons with disabilities, who do not own an apartment, can benefit from 'housing support'. Housing support may include several different ways of providing adequate/appropriate housing such as renting an apartment; purchase and other means of acquiring property rights over an apartment or family house; improvement of living conditions (i.e. making an apartment accessible); support for the legalization of a dwelling or family house; and housing care (i.e. providing a temporary home). In addition, it is prescribed that 'appropriate/adequate housing for persons with disabilities' must be accessible, in accordance with person's needs. Disability is one of the criteria for establishing the priority list for housing needs.
The Strategy for Improvement of the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the Republic of Serbia calls for improvement of the quality of life of persons with disabilities by creating opportunities for their free choice of living conditions and lifestyles in an environment of their choice, which is stated as one of its specific objectives (Objective 11) within the Goal 3: “Develop and implement policy actions and programmes, particularly in the areas of education, employment, work and housing, which provide equal opportunities for persons with disabilities and encourage independence, personal development and active life in all areas.” Planned activities for reaching this objective include development and implementation of programmes for assisted living in the community, public education programmes and training on independent living for persons with disabilities and family rights programmes. However, this Strategy expired and the new one has not been adopted yet (although the draft version is available from 2016).
The Strategy for Development of Social Protection (2005) identifies many limitations of the social protection system in Serbia and identifies that persons with disabilities should be taken care of in the least restrictive environment, according to their condition(s). One of the priorities of the reform of the social protection system is to improve their protection through the processes of preventing institutional care, gradual decrease of institutions’ capacities, raising the quality of institutional care and creating possibilities for users to leave institutions and go to the natural or less restrictive environment. Specific Goal 2 of the Strategy is the realisation of a network of community services. The Strategy’s goals and objectives were mostly addressed by the enactment of the new Law on Social Protection (March 2011) and accompanying by-laws.
The Strategy for Improvement of the Status of Persons with Disabilities refers that social, health and other services for persons with disabilities must fully respect the principle of accessibility within the local community “with full implementation of the process of de-institutionalisation” in Measure 4 of Specific Objective 5 ('To improve the service and support system for users in accordance to their needs') and in Measure 1 of Specific Objective 6 ('To strengthen the families of persons with disabilities by providing adequate support for appropriate services helping to integration persons with disabilities into the community'). However, this Strategy expired and the new one has not yet been adopted.
The Law on Social Protection ("Official Gazette of the RS", No. 24/2011) redefines 'institutional placement' as the only form of social services available in Serbia. Institutional placement is provided to users for whom staying in the family, community services or family placement either cannot be provided, or is not in their best interest. However, children younger than three years of age cannot be placed in institutional care except in cases of particularly justified reasons, and children cannot spend more than two months there, except with the approval of the relevant Ministry. Still, the definitions of 'best interest' and 'particularly justified reasons' leave enough space for interpretations which could undermine the efforts in the direction of de-institutionalization provided by the Law.
In 2014, the Ombudsman published the Road map for Deinstitutionalization, in which one possible model of de-institutionalisation process in Serbia was proposed. This document is based on the Common European Guidelines on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care.
D3. Quality of social services
The Constitution of the Republic of Serbia in Article 69 on 'Social Protection' states that social protection is provided according to the principles of social justice, humanity and respect of human dignity, and that persons with disabilities, war veterans and victims of war are entitled to special protection in accordance with the law.
The Law on Social Protection (2011) in Article 5 defines social services as “activities of support and assistance to users and their families for improving or retaining their quality of life, removing or mitigating the risk of negative life conditions, and creating the conditions for living independently within the community” (emphasis added). According to this Law, social services should be provided, primarily, in a direct and least restrictive environment, that enables the user to remain in his or her community. The law introduces the principle of accessibility (physical, geographical and economical) and individual approach and provides a list of social services, grouped into five categories: assessment and planning services, day services within the community, independent living support services (including supported living, personal assistance, training for independent living, other types of support necessary for active participation in society), counselling and socio-educational services, and accommodation services including placement into residential institutions.
In 2013, the Rulebook on detailed conditions and standards for the provision of social protection services was adopted (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 42/2013).
D4. Provision of assistive devices at home
The right to assistive devices is regulated mostly within the system of health protection, through the Law on Health Insurance (“Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia”, No. 107/2005, 109/2005 – correction, 57/2011, 110/2012 – decision of the Constitutional Court, 119/2012, 99/2014, 123/2014, 126/2014 – decision of the Constitutional Court, 116/2015 and 10/2016 – other law). The eligibility to certain type of aids is regulated by the Rulebook on medical-technical aids that are provided from the compulsory health insurance (“Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia”, No. 52/2012, 62/2012 – correction, 73/2012 – correction, 1/2013, 7/2013 – correction, 112/2014, 114/2014 – correction, 18/2015, 19/2017 and 29/2017 – correction). Other regulations on assistive devices include the Rulebook on Orthopaedic Aids for Disabled Veterans (“Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia”, No. 45/2009) and the Rulebook on medical indications for orthopaedic and other aids for disabled veterans (“Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia”, No. 37/2000). In addition, The Law on Disability and Pension Insurance (“Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia”, No. 34/03, 64/04 – decision of the Constitutional Court, 84/04 – other law, 85/05, 101/05 – other law, 63/06 – decision of the Constitutional Court,, 5/09, 107/09, 101/10, 93/2012, 62/2013, 108/2013, 75/2014 and 142/2014) guarantees the right of blind persons to assistive devices. Nevertheless, in most cases, administrative procedures are quite lengthy including public procurement processes, and the quality of aids is not always sufficient (in many cases, outdated types or models are provided).
D5. Availability of personal assistance schemes
The Law on Social Protection (2011) regulates that the social services are provided primarily in least restrictive environment that enables the user to remain in his/her community while choosing those services. The law introduces the principle of accessibility (physical, geographical and economical) and an individual approach, and provides a list of social services that, inter alia, envisages provision of support services for independent living in the community by organising personal assistance services at local level and supported housing, as well as various daily services which include daily care and help in the household.
Supported living is mainly financed from the national budget, whereas local administrations fund personal assistance services. Given financial capacities of many local administrations, the question is raised whether the personal assistance service can be provided in practice without the financial support of the Government and foreign donors.
The Rulebook on detailed conditions and standards for the provision of social protection services (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 42/2013), prescribes conditions and standards for the service of personal assistance.
However, these conditions are very restrictive. Personal assistance services are available only to adults with disabilities who are assessed either degree I or II of support needs, and who accordingly receive increased allowance for assistance and care of another person, have ability to make decisions independently, are employed or actively involved in the work of various associations of citizens, sports clubs, political parties and other forms of social engagement, or are included in regular or individual educational programmes.
D6. Income maintenance
According to the Law on Social Protection, the following cash benefits are available for persons with disabilities within the social protection system in Serbia:
- allowance for care and assistance of another person intended for children and adults, who due to illness or disability cannot perform the basic daily activities independently, regardless of their material status;
- increased allowance for care and assistance of another person, the beneficiaries of which are children and adults with the highest degree of disability.
According to the Law on Disability and Pension Insurance, the active insured persons or beneficiaries of pensions may receive allowance for care and assistance of another person as compensation in the system of pension and disability insurance, and they may receive the increased allowance as an additional payment within the social welfare system.
D7. Additional costs
There is no additional cash benefits available. There is no personal budget for persons with disabilities, neither a budget for technical devices. If a person with disability has the right to a technical device, which is assessed according to criteria prescribed in laws and bylaws, he/she will be given a device (not the money to buy it). The same is with personal assistance, there is no cash benefit for the personal assistance. Provision of personal assistance is at the local level, so some municipalities provide for it, while others do not. In any case, the person with disability is not given money to pay a personal assistant, the salary for an assistant is provided from the local municipality budget and usually it is administered through an NGO.
D8. Retirement income
The Law on Pension and Disability Insurance (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 34/03, 64/04 – decision of the Constitutional Court, 84/04 – other law, 85/05, 101/05 – other law, 63/06 – decision of the Constitutional Court,, 5/09, 107/09, 101/10, 93/2012, 62/2013, 108/2013, 75/2014 and 142/2014) regulates compulsory and voluntary pension and disability insurance for cases of ageing, disability, death or physical impairment.
In cases where complete lack of working capability is determined, it is possible to receive disability pension up until the age required to realise the right to old age pension if the reason for disability is a work-related injury or professional disease regardless the length of pensionable service or if disability is a consequence of disease or injury unrelated to work. In latter case, at least five years of pensionable service are required (three years for persons under the age of 30, or two years and one year respectively for persons under the ages of 25 and 20). Follow-up examination must be performed within three years, with the exception for persons over 58 years old and those whose medical diagnoses are such that they are not likely to experience working capability improvement. Employed persons with disability who get fired against their will are entitled to half of disability pension upon termination of the National Employment Agency benefits.
E1. Special schools
The Law on Foundation of the Education System and Upbringing (“Official Gazette of the RS”, No. 88/2017 and 27/2018) provides for mandatory enrolment of all children in mainstream elementary schools (based on their place of residence). Only after several months of attendance of a mainstream school and application of all available measures of inclusive education (through individual education plans), it can be recommended to transfer a child with disability to a special school. The Interdepartmental Commission organised by the local administration has to elaborate recommendations to transfer the child to a special school, but the final decision is on the parents or legal guardian. The education of pupils with disabilities in special education schools is organised mostly by type of disability, which means that pupils with the same type of disability are segregated into special schools or special classes with little or no interaction with other students. The total number of special education schools in Serbia is 48, of which 13 are in Belgrade. Each of the 17 school directorates has at least one such school. Most of the elementary schools (14) and combined elementary and secondary schools (20) are for the education of pupils with mental disabilities. There are also eight schools for pupils with hearing impairments, two schools for blind pupils - both in Belgrade, and pupils with behavioural difficulties, moving difficulties and children on prolonged hospitalization. The total number of special classes in mainstream schools is 314.
E2. Mainstream schools
According to the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, Article 71, "elementary education is mandatory and free to everyone, while secondary education is free." The Law on the Prevention of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities defines general obligations of the state administration, autonomous provinces and local self-government authorities responsible for education to provide measures aimed for education of persons with disabilities to become an integral part of the mainstream education system (Article 36 - Measures to ensure equality in the field of education).
The legislative framework for education is provided by the Law on Foundation of the Education System and Upbringing (“Official Gazette of the RS”, No. 88/2017 and 27/2018). According to the Law, it is mandatory to enrol all children in elementary schools. The preparatory pre-school programme is obligatory for every child and it can be provided by pre-school institution or elementary school. Measures to support inclusive education that are provided by the previous Law on Foundation of Education System and Upbringing are further regulated in the Rulebook on additional educational, health and social support of children and pupils and the Rulebook on detailed guidelines for determining the right to the individual education plan (IEP). Having in mind, that the new Law was adopted in 2017, the above mentioned Rulebooks will be implemented until the new ones would be adopted.
The Rulebook on additional educational, health and social support to the child and student (“Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia”, No. 63/2010) was adopted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development; the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Policy. The Rulebook regulates the assessment of needs for additional support in the educational system, by the Interdepartmental Commission (IC) at local level. The Rulebook states that all assessments must be in accordance to best interest of the child and through an holistic approach.
The Rulebook on detailed guidelines for determining the right to an Individual Education Plan (IEP), and its implementation and evaluation (“Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia”, No. 72/09 and 76/2010), enables children from vulnerable groups to be educated in the mainstream educational system in accordance with their abilities. The pedagogical profile of a child is the first document in the assessment process in which pupils with disability are assessed, socially and holistically. The adjustment of educational process to children that have need of additional support is the following. The first level of adjustment is individualisation, characterised by the removal of physical and communication barriers. It can be changed at any moment according to the child's needs. The second level is the development of An Individual Education Plan (IEP), either an IEP with adjusted educational standards or an IEP with changed educational standards. Both have specific procedures and regulations, including written approval of the parent(s) or a legal guardian.
The Law on Textbooks (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 27/2018) prescribes that a textbook, i.e. teaching materials used for education of the blind and visually impaired pupils, may be written in Braille, in an electronic form or in formats customized to the blind and visually impaired, such as large print, sound recordings or photo enlargements or other format and medium.
E3. Sign language and Braille in school
The Law on Foundation of the Education System and Upbringing prescribes that the education of persons using sign language, i.e. special alphabet or other technical solutions, may be provided in the sign language and using the means of the language. The Law on Textbooks (“Official Gazette of the RS”, No. 27/2018) prescribes that a textbook, i.e. teaching materials used for education of blind and visually impaired people, is written in Braille, in an electronic form or in customized formats such as large print, sound recordings or photo enlargements, or other format or medium.
The Law on the Use of Sign Language (“Official Gazette of the RS”, No. 29/2015) regulates the use of sign language, i.e. the right to learn sign language and the right to use the services of an interpreter for sign language, the manner of using the services of an interpreter for sign language, measures for promoting implementation and improvement in the use of sign language through the information and education on sign language and other issues significant for the use of sign language.
E4. Vocational training
Vocational training is determined by the Law on Foundation of Education System and Upbringing. Article 89 of the Law states that a secondary education can be delivered in gymnasium (general and specialized gymnasiums), vocational school, joint school (gymnasium and vocational or music school), arts school, secondary school for the education of adults and secondary school for students with disabilities. In Article 19, the Law states that education in secondary schools can be also delivered through individual education plan. According to the same Law (Article 78), students with disabilities can pass final exam of vocational training ('Matura'), which is adjusted to his/her abilities and in accordance with an Individual Education Plan that was used during the training.
Also, the Strategy for the Development of Vocational Education and Training in the Republic of Serbia was adopted by the Serbian Government in 2006. The National Action Plan for the Implementation of the Strategy for the Development of Vocational Education and Training in the Republic of Serbia 2009-2015 was developed and adopted in 2008. The Action plan prioritises development and improvement of vocational education to address the needs of the labour market and the needs of different target groups. Among the six priorities for further development of the curricula defined by the Action Plan, special tasks have been defined regarding the development and improvement of programmes in the languages of national minorities and for the students with disabilities within the priority “Further modernisation of the contents, organisation and methods of teaching, teachers’ work and schools which includes further development and innovation of modular education programmes based on learning outcomes”.
E5. Higher education
The Law on Higher Education (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 88/2017) states that "the right to higher education is applicable to all persons who completed their secondary education irrespective of, inter alia, their disability." The founder shall provide funds to higher education institutions for the equipment and conditions needed for students with disability (Article 69). As mentioned in Article 95, a higher education institution can organise and implement programmes and/or certain parts of programmes for students with disabilities in sign language. A student with disability shall have the right to take an exam in the manner adapted to his/her abilities, in accordance with the general Act of a higher education institution (Articles 96 and 105).
The Law on Pupil and Student Standards (“Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia”, No. 18/2010, 55/2013 and 27/2018 – other law) identified vulnerable groups in higher education and defined support measures for widening their access and completion of higher education (including provision of accommodation, meals, student loans, scholarships, scholarships for gifted students, rest and recovering, cultural, arts, sports and recreational activities and information). Students with disabilities are among these vulnerable groups. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development awards scholarships to students with disabilities in the amount that covers the costs of meals and accommodation in the student dormitory. Support for students with disabilities is provided by the Associations of students with disabilities in bigger university centres. University of Belgrade established the Centre for Students with Disabilities in 2008. The Associations and the Centre provide assistance to students with disabilities in regulating their status on faculties (tuition fee exemption, etc.). The funding and enrolment of students with disabilities was encompassed by an affirmative measure that the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development first implemented in the 2012/13 school year. This measure sets a total quota of 2% of places funded from the state budget for students with disabilities, as well as for members of the Roma ethnic community.
F1. Non-discrimination in employment
The Constitution of the Republic of Serbia in Article 60 'Right to work' guarantees the right to work and free choice of occupation. Persons with disabilities, together with women and youth, have been identified as groups that should be provided special protection at work and special work conditions.
The Law on the Prevention of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities contains a section on 'Discrimination related to Employment and Work' which defines acts of discrimination against persons with disability related to job seeking, employment, salary, adjustments of workplace and treatment of employees with disabilities. This section also introduces affirmative action measures as non-discriminatory acts.
The Labour Law ("Official Gazette of the RS", No. 24/05, 61/05, 54/2009, 32/2013, 75/2014, 13/2017 – decision of the Constitutional Court and 113/2017), in Article 18, prohibits direct and indirect discrimination against persons seeking employment and employees in respect to, inter alia, their health status or disability, and prescribes that special measures, assistance and protection of persons with disabilities and persons on leave for special child care are not to be considered discriminatory. The Labour Law does not prescribe any special protection against the cancellation of an employment contract based on disability.
The Law on Professional Rehabilitation and Employment of Persons with Disabilities (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 36/2009 and 32/2013) introduced the obligation to employ persons with disabilities as the principle of affirmative action aiming to increase the participation of persons with disabilities in the labour market. This obligation, which started in May 2010, i.e. one year after the Law entered into force, refers to all companies with at least 20 employees. Employers with 20 to 49 employees are obliged to hire one person with disability, while those having 50 and more employees must hire at least two persons with disability, and per each additional 50 employees they are required to employ one additional person with disability. The Law, however, foresees that newly established firms will not have the obligation to employ persons with disability for the initial period of two years from the day of their establishment.
The Law also stipulates alternative ways of fulfilling the obligations: not only by employing persons with disability based on the number of employed workers, but also by payments to a special Fund or by making agreements on technical cooperation with enterprises for the professional rehabilitation and employment of persons with disabilities (e.g. an enterprise can decide to pay the amount of average salary to the special fund per not hired person with disability), which is not good since it enables employers not to hire persons with disabilities.
The National Employment Strategy for 2011-2020 (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 37/2011) recognises persons with disabilities as one of especially vulnerable group in the labour market. Therefore various incentives are envisaged: active employment policy measures for persons with disabilities, both financial and non-financial, aimed at supporting the employment of persons with disabilities, as well as providing support to employers.
F2. Public employment services
The Law on Professional Rehabilitation and Employment of Persons with Disabilities prescribes that the National Employment Agency determines work capacity of persons with disabilities. The National Employment Agency issues a decision on the basis of an assessment work skills and employment opportunities or maintaining employment, on findings, opinions and assessment of the Commission of Expert Authority, which is established by the Republic Pension and Disabilities Insurance Fund.
According to the Law, assessment of work capacity includes medical, social and other criteria establishing the possibilities and capabilities of persons with disability necessary for inclusion in the labour market and performance of concrete work independently or with the assistance of a support service and the use of technical aids, i.e. the possibility of employment under general and special conditions.
The final assessment is determined through a four-level scale:
Level 0 - the difficulties and obstacles are minor and do not affect the working capacity, thus the person does not have the disability status according to the Law;
Level 1 - the difficulties and obstacles are small and affect the working capacity in relation to the profession and jobs that the person can perform, so the employment is possible under general conditions;
Level 2 - the difficulties and obstacles are moderate or substantial and affect the working capacity in relation to profession and jobs that the person can perform, so the employment is possible under special conditions; and
Level 3 - the difficulties and obstacles are complete or multiple, and affect the working capacity to a measure that performance is less than one third of performance of an employee in a normal workplace, thus such person could not be employed or hold an employment neither under general nor special conditions.
The National Employment Agency has established Centres for Professional Rehabilitation and Employment of Persons with Disabilities as the main providers of vocational rehabilitation services and programmes of active labour market measures aimed at persons with disabilities.
F3. Workplace adaptations
The Law on Professional Rehabilitation and Employment of Persons with Disabilities contains provisions related to the reimbursement of appropriate expenses of adaptations or adjustments of the workplace, which may be granted to the employer who hires a person with disability. Adjustments relate to the technical and technological equipment of the workplace, premises and special devices, in accordance with the capabilities and needs of each person with disability.
The National Employment Service adopts an annual plan which includes, inter alia, measures aimed at increasing the employment of persons with disabilities. In addition, each year, the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopts a plan of dedicating financial means from the Budgetary Fund for Employment and Professional Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities. In January 2018, the plan for 2018 has been adopted, and an amount of RSD 550.000.000 (approx. EUR 4,661.016) is dedicated as follows: measures and activities of professional rehabilitation (approx. EUR 570.000); enhancement of employment of persons with disabilities (approx. EUR 3,900.000), and support to persons with disabilities employed under special conditions (approx. EUR 182.000), including workplace adaptations.
F4. Financial incentives
The Law on Professional Rehabilitation and Employment of Persons with Disabilities introduces incentives to improve the working conditions (including accessibility), incentives and support in cases of self-employment, strengthening the capacities of enterprises for vocational rehabilitation and employment of persons with disabilities, targeting active labour market programmes for hard-to-employ individuals and groups at risk of labour market exclusion; subsidising employers’ share of social security contributions (payroll taxes, pension and disability insurance contributions), in accordance with the Decree on Employment Incentives and granting incentives to employers according to the provision of the Law on Mandatory Social Insurance Contributions. Apart from incentives to private employers, public sector employers are also eligible for subsidies for recruiting persons with disabilities to fill newly opened positions.
The incentives for: recruitment of persons with disabilities, vocational rehabilitation services, reimbursement for salaries of persons with disabilities employed in professional rehabilitation enterprises, improvement of conditions of work, upgrading of production lines, introduction of standards, improvement of the quality of products and services, adjustments in the workplace and other services, are paid by the Fund for Professional Rehabilitation and Employment of Persons with Disabilities. This comprises State funds and payments made towards the co-financing of salaries of persons with disabilities employed in professional rehabilitation enterprises, social enterprises or organisations.
Programmes and measures regarding persons with disabilities are financed from the Fund. On an annual basis, resources of the Fund are allocated as follows:
– activities and active labour market programmes, which are implemented by the National Employment Service (such as active job search, vocational education and training, subsidies for employment of persons with disabilities, etc.);
– measures of support to the enterprises for professional rehabilitation and employment of persons with disabilities, which are implemented by the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Policy (such as subsidies for persons’ with disabilities salaries in those enterprises, according to the Article 40 of the Law), employment of professionals for vocational training and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities, transportation expenses for persons with disabilities and professionals for vocational training and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities, as well as improvement of working conditions and production programmes, introduction of standards, improvement of product and service quality, adjustment of workplaces or other purposes (according to the Article 41 of the Law).
The Law on Compulsory Social Insurance determines the exemption of the obligation to pay contributions for social insurance, which are paid by the employer, for a period of three years from the moment of employment of a person with disability.
The National Employment Agency publishes the following types of tenders: grant-subsidies to employers for opening new work posts; grant-subsidies for self-employment to the unemployed persons with disabilities; tenders to organise and carry out public works where persons with disabilities can be employed (limited to six months so far, with several months gap between two tenders); reimbursement of salary of persons engaged to provide professional support to persons with disabilities at work; participation in financing of training programmes for persons with disabilities for the requirements of employers; submission of claims for refund of adequate costs of adjustment of work post for employment of persons with disabilities; implementation of professional practice and submission of claims for grant of subsidies of salaries for employment of persons with disabilities without work experience.
G. Statistics and data collection
G1. Official research
The Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia is a specialised professional organisation in the system of state administration of the Republic of Serbia that is responsible for conducting statistical surveys, methodology creation, collecting, processing, statistical analysis and publishing of the statistical data; data processing, etc.
The statistical survey on pre-school institutions (PSV) collects data on children with disability – by age, sex and duration of day-care and canteen that is published in annual reports. Other statistical surveys on educational institutions (primary and secondary) collect data from regular schools and school for pupils with disabilities, without disability related indicators, with reports published annually, at the beginning or the end of each school year. Survey on students' enrolment for higher education institutions collects data on difficulties in carrying out every day students' activities.
More disability related data and statistics is collected and produced within the field of social protection (responsible producer of official statistics is the Republic Institute for Social Protection) through the following surveys: Survey on minor and adult beneficiaries and services, measures and interventions of social protection; Survey on children and youth with disabilities; Survey on adults with disabilities; Survey on adults with mental disabilities; Survey on adults with disabilities. However, these surveys' data are limited to beneficiaries of the social protection institutions.
With the cooperation of the Republic Fund for Pension and Disability Insurance, statistics in the field of pension and disability insurance are collected through: Survey on beneficiaries of rights to pension and disability insurance; Survey on pension beneficiaries as of 31 December of the year for which report is drawn; Survey on pension beneficiaries who have realized the rights for the first time, and published reports annually.
G2. Census data
Disability, while not being explicitly mentioned, was introduced for the first time in the 2011 Census of Population, Households and Dwellings 2011. There were two questions within the part titled 'Functioning and Social Integration'. the first question records “the difficulties in performing everyday activities due to problems with” following categories: vision, hearing, walking and climbing up the stairs, memory/concentration, independence in dressing, eating, personal hygiene, communication. The second question refers to the use of assistive devices, but offered answers are limited to orthopaedic and similar aids for persons with physical disability.
The Census data on disability was separately published by the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia.
G3. Labour Force Survey
The Labour Force Survey is conducted by the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia. It was introduced in the Republic of Serbia in 1994, but become internationally comparable in 2004. In April 2008 the Survey was fully harmonized with the recommendations of the International Labour Organization and the EuroStat requirements. Disability is introduced as an indicator in both 'Active' (employed persons with disabilities) and 'Inactive' (“desire to work but cannot work due to: illness or disability” and “do not want to work due to: illness or disability and care of children or adult disabled persons”) categories of population. Persons living in residential institutions such as homes for adults with disabilities, homes for children and young people with disability, and homes for the elderly are excluded from the Labour Force Survey.
G4. Disability equality indicators
In 2009-2010, the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit and the Statistical Office produced the report “Monitoring Social Inclusion in Serbia - Overview and Current Status of Social Inclusion in Serbia Based on the Monitoring of European and National Indicators”. The report proposes certain criteria for data disaggregation on national level, status of persons with disabilities and physical isolation (hospital treatment) being among them. The areas where necessity of introduction of disability indicators is proposed and emphasized are employment, health and deprivation of basic needs (material deprivation – housing and fulfilment of basic needs). However, disability equality indicators are not introduced yet.
H. Awareness and external action
H1. Awareness raising programs
Awareness raising programs and campaigns are still predominantly conducted by non-governmental organizations, including disabled people's organisations (DPOs). The Commissioner for the Protection of Equality has undertaken different activities aimed at raising awareness. Among these is support provided to persons with disabilities for participation in the Belgrade Marathon.
H2. Training for teachers
There are several faculties for initial teachers training in Serbia. The curricula contain compulsory course related to work with pupils with disabilities that it is usually on third academic year (out of four years of bachelor study). Still, it is based on the medical model of disability i.e. limitations rather than possibilities for education in inclusive environment. Discourse and terminology that are used in the names of courses are discriminatory and 'special needs' paradigm is widely present. The objectives of the courses are mostly based on introducing specificities of the most common disabilities, and rarely on elaborating measures of inclusive education that are being part of the recent education policies in Serbia. In addition, most of these faculties offer elective course on Special Pedagogy. Curricula of faculties that educate future subject teachers (e.g. science, etc.) do not contain courses related to inclusive education.
Besides initial training that all school teachers receive during their university studies, the Law on Foundation of the Education System and Upbringing obliges schools to provide in-service training and continuous professional development of their staff in different fields, inclusive education being one of them. In addition, the Rulebook on additional educational support to a child and pupil provides a list of indirect support measures that include additional in-service training for school staff. There are 56 accredited programmes (for school year 2016/17) for additional teachers’ training that are listed in the Catalogue of the Institute for Improvement and Evaluation of Education, under the category “education of children with additional support needs”.
H3. Training for lawyers
There are several state and private faculties of law in Serbia. Legal issues related to persons with disabilities are mainly introduced through courses such as Human rights, Minority rights, International and European law and similar. None of the faculties has a course that specifically deals with the rights of persons with disabilities. The Faculty of Law of the University of Belgrade provides an elective course entitled 'Legal clinic' with a section on discrimination, where future lawyers are introduced to all legal instruments regarding disability and can learn and practice through actual cases of discrimination.
In addition, law faculties, human rights and other non-governmental organisations provide various non-formal education programmes and activities such as summer schools on topics of human rights and discrimination against persons with disabilities.
The Judicial Academy organises initial education for future judges and prosecutors. Topics related to the prohibition of discrimination, including against persons with disabilities, are part of the initial training. Organisations of persons with disabilities are included in the training, also as lecturers.
H4. Training for doctors
Information on any training for doctors regarding topics related to persons with disabilities is not available.
H5. Training for engineers
Accessibility and a universal design have been introduced to the curriculum of the Faculty of Technical Sciences at the University in Novi Sad through the elective course entitled 'The principles of Universal Design' on the third year of basic academic studies of Architecture and Urbanism. These topics are part of the elective curriculum of the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Belgrade as well. Still, most of the training for engineers is provided by the non-governmental organisations (including disabled people's organisations, human rights organisations, etc.).
H6. International development aid
Information is not available.