26.6.2023. The Commissioner for the Protection of Equality (Equality Commissioner) issued an opinion
and a recommendation in response to a complaint of discrimination filed by the Belgrade
Centre for Human Rights and A11 – the Initiative for Economic and Social Rights. The
Commissioner found that a youth cooperative had discriminated against an individual granted
refuge in the Republic of Serbia, impinging on their access to the labour market, in violation of
Article 6 in conjunction with Article 17 of the Anti-Discrimination Act.1
Namely, the complaint was filed after a situation testing for discrimination by youth
cooperatives, specifically whether they refused to admit as members persons granted refuge
in the Republic of Serbia. In this specific case, the tester entered the youth cooperative, said
he was an Afghan national who has been granted asylum and wanted to join the cooperative
because he needed a job. The staff, however, rejected his application. A national of Serbia
then entered the same cooperative and joined it without any problems.
The Equality Commissioner found that the tester had not been treated equally and that his
membership application had been rejected solely because of his status of asylee. Interestingly,
the cooperative admitted during the procedure that its staff, who had interviewed the tester,
had rejected his application because it did not know what to do. The Commissioner
recommended that the Sat Youth Cooperative review all membership applications filed by
persons granted refuge in Serbia on a case to case basis and on an equal footing and refrain
from violating the prohibition of discrimination in the future.
The Belgrade Centre for Human Rights and the A11 Initiative consider this opinion extremely
important in light of the importance of the right to work accorded individuals granted asylum
for their full integration, possibility to earn a living and economically empower themselves.
The Belgrade Centre for Human Rights and the A11 Initiative will continue monitoring the
implementation of the Equality Commissioner’s recommendation carefully and hope that there
will be fewer and fewer such cases of discrimination in practice.