The freedom of movement is one of the most important segments of the integration for refugees, and in that regard the right to be issued with a travel document is very important right envisaged by the 1951 UN Convention on the Status of Refugees and the 2008 Law on Asylum. Without the right to leave the place of residence or the country, a person can be deprived of the right to a marriage or family, right to education, right to work or any other right. Inability of recognized refugees to freely move outside the country of asylum has deterring effect on the perceiving one country as a destination country and encourages the continuation of migratory movements, especially illegal ones.
The Law on Asylum prescribes that the persons granted asylum will be issued with a travel document, valid for two years. It is important to notify that travel document for refugees is a special document, different from the passport for Serbian citizens, requiring a visa even for the countries in which Serbian citizens can travel visa free. However, since the Law on Asylum came into force in 2008, Ministry of Interior have not adopted the enactment on the design and content of travel documents for refugees, wherefore it cannot issue them travel documents. Neither the Serbian Constitution nor the European convention for the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms envisage the absence of a legal regulation pursuant for limiting the freedom of movement. The BCHR legal team in 2014 filed a constitutional appeal with the Constitutional Court of Serbia complaining about the restriction of the refugees’ freedom of movement due to Ministry’s inability to issue them travel documents. This appeal was dismissed as the Constitutional Court of Serbia declared itself not competent to decide on the violation of rights caused by non-existence of legal acts.
We hope that the relevant authorities will recognize the importance of issuing travel documents to recognized refugees in Serbia and that they will start issuing these documents as soon as possible, for the purpose of full implementation of guaranteed rights of refugees and to allow them to live a dignified life.