Serbia

Not Available

Immigration detainees

2019

Not Available

Detained children

2017

253

New asylum applications

2019

820,312

International migrants

2019

8,700,000

Population

2020

Overview

(February 2021) Serbia has been a critical country in Europe’s response to migration and refugee pressures. Located just outside the eastern boundary of the European Union, Serbia’s shared border with Hungary--an important transit point into Europe for migrants--has experienced considerable turmoil, especially after Hungary declared a “state of crisis” due to “mass immigration” in 2016 and boosted border fences and other controls. The country operates a migrant detention centre in Padinska Skela. Civil society groups say that it has been plagued by problems like lack of access to legal assistance, poor transparency and insufficient access to official data about the facility, and failure to provide detainees with non-custodial options.

Types of facilities used for migration-related detention
Administrative Ad Hoc Criminal Unknown

25 May 2020

Tents in Morovic Camp - originally intended to be used for quarantining Serbian nationals returning home, but now being used to deain migrants and asylum seekers, (mod.gov.rs,
Tents in Morovic Camp - originally intended to be used for quarantining Serbian nationals returning home, but now being used to deain migrants and asylum seekers, (mod.gov.rs, "BIRN Fact-check: When Did Serbia Order All Arrivals to Self-Isolate?" Balkan Insight, 8 April 2020, https://balkaninsight.com/2020/04/08/birn-fact-check-when-did-serbia-order-all-arrivals-to-self-isolate/)

Since March, all transit and asylum centres have been in lock-down. Raids of squats and informal accommodation have increased since then, with migrants and asylum seekers apprehended and transferred to camps across the country. According to the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN), the government temporarily opened several “camps,” which have been quickly filled with new arrivals. These sites are in Morović, Subotica, and Miratovac. Reportedly, the facility in Morović has been used to confine overflow from other sites and “troublemakers” from facilities elsewhere. Some of these, including the tented facility in Morović - had originally been intended to be used for quarantining Serbian nationals returning home.

Despite Serbia lifting its state of emergency on 6 May, on 16 May the government announced that it would be deploying troops to “secure” and “protect” three migrant reception centres located on the country’s border with Croatia. Reportedly these three facilities - Principovac, Sid-Stanica, and Adasevci - currently confine 1,500 migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, most of whom are from Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. President Vučić reportedly told a local media outlet that the deployment was also to protect locals in the area. Since the country had begun to lift lockdown, he claimed, “the migrants started venturing outside the camps, committing petty crimes and illegal entries into houses.”

Pushbacks from Serbia into North Macedonia have continued during the crisis. In one case documented by the BVMN in early April, a group of 15 adult men and one minor in Tutin camp were informed that they were being transferred to a site in Prescevo. Crammed into a police van, they were driven for nine hours before being forced outside and, with guns pointed at them, ordered to cross into North Macedonia. The group attempted to re-enter Serbia four times, but on each occasion they were pushed back across the border.

As the GDP reported on 23 April, anti-migrant sentiment has been growing in Serbia. Since March, one of the fastest growing Facebook groups in the country is called “Stop Migrant Settlement.” Some of the group’s members have voiced their belief that authorities introduced curfews not to stem the virus’s spread, but so that they could quietly settle migrants across the country. In early May, a car was driven into a migrant centre in Obrenovac, with the driver live-streaming the attack on his Facebook page.


23 April 2020

A group of migrants rest at the Serbian village of Kelebia, bordering Hungary (EPA-EFE/Zoltan Balogh Hungary Out/ Balkan Insight - https://balkaninsight.com/2020/04/09/movement-ban-worsens-migrants-plight-in-serbia-bosnia/
A group of migrants rest at the Serbian village of Kelebia, bordering Hungary (EPA-EFE/Zoltan Balogh Hungary Out/ Balkan Insight - https://balkaninsight.com/2020/04/09/movement-ban-worsens-migrants-plight-in-serbia-bosnia/

NGOs report that 6,852 migrants and asylum seekers are currently confined in the country’s 13 closed reception centres. Many had tried to cross into Croatia and Hungary - with some being forcibly pushed back by Hungarian and Croatian border police. In recent months, anti-migrant sentiment has grown in the country: a rally in Belgrade in early March called for the return of all migrants passing through Serbia and warned that participants would set up street patrols to intercept foreigners.

After the eruption of the Covid-19 crisis, Serbian authorities quickly moved to lock-down reception centres, imposing a state of quarantine on 17 March. Article 3, paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Decree on Emergency Measures provides that migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers may be deprived of their liberty on the grounds of preventing “uncontrolled movement” and the potential spread of the virus. With armed soldiers reportedly stationed outside the reception centres, migrants and asylum seekers have not been allowed out of the facilities unless they receive special permission, and rights organisations have been prevented from entering - thus denying detainees psychological, legal, or other forms of assistance.

However, with no confirmed cases amongst the non-citizen population, and with no such restrictions in place for Serbian citizens living in private accommodation, rights observers argue that this amounts to “discrimination on the basis of legal status, origin and place of residence.” The human rights NGO A11 says that the government’s quarantine of reception facilities is additionally problematic given that the collective deprivation of liberty of non-citizens has produced inhuman and degrading conditions in certain facilities due to severe overcrowding - reportedly, capacity at Sombor Transit Centre has reached 450 percent.


Last updated:

ENFORCEMENT DATA

Total Detainees/ Stock & Flow (Year)
Not Available
2019
Reported Population (Day)
6,852
2020
Number of Asylum Seekers Placed in Immigration Detention (Year)
12
2016
Total Number of Children Placed in Immigration Detention (Year)
Not Available
2017
Criminal Prison Population (Year)
10,065
2016
Percentage of Foreign Prisoners (Year)
3.5
2015
Prison Population Rate (per 100,000 of National Population)
142
2016

POPULATION DATA

Population (Year)
8,700,000
2020
International Migrants (Year)
820,312
2019
New Asylum Applications (Year)
253
2019
2,316
2019

SOCIO-ECONOMIC DATA & POLLS

B. Attitudes and Perceptions

MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

LEGAL & REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

GROUNDS FOR MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

LENGTH OF MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION INSTITUTIONS

PROCEDURAL STANDARDS & SAFEGUARDS

DETENTION MONITORS

TRANSPARENCY

READMISSION/RETURN/EXTRADITION AGREEMENTS

Bilateral/Multilateral Readmission Agreements
Germany (2003)
2017
Germany (2011)
2017
Austria (2004)
2017
Austria (2011)
2017
Bulgaria (2010)
2017
Croatia (2004)
2017
Denmark (2003)
2017
Italy (1998)
2017
Malta (2010)
2017
Slovakia (2003)
2017
Slovakia (2009)
2017
Slovenia (2009)
2017
Spain (2011)
2017
Sweden (2003)
2017
Norway (2009)
2017
Switzerland (2010)
2017
Russian Federation (2015)
2017
EU (2008)
2017

COVID-19

HEALTH CARE

COVID-19 DATA

INTERNATIONAL TREATIES

International Treaties Ratified
Ratification Year
Observation Date
ICERD, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
2001
2017
VCCR, Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
2001
2017
ICESCR, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
2001
2017
ICCPR, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
2001
2017
CEDAW, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
2001
2017
CAT, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
2001
2017
CRC, Convention on the Rights of the Child
2001
2017
ICPED, International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance
2011
2017
CRSR, Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
2001
2017
CRSSP, Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons
2001
2017
CTOCTP, Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children
2001
2017
CTOCSP, Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime
2001
2017
OPCAT, Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
2006
2006
Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
Ratio: 13/19
Individual Complaints Procedures
Acceptance Year
ICERD, declaration under article 14 of the Convention 2001
2001
ICCPR, First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 2001
2001
CEDAW, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 1999 2003
2003
CAT, declaration under article 22 of the Convention 2001
2001
CRPD, Optional Protocol to o the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2009
2009
ICPED, International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, declaration under article 31 2011
2011
Ratio of Complaints Procedures Accepted
Observation Date
6/7
2017

NON-TREATY-BASED INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS

Relevant Recommendations from the UN Universal Periodic Review
Observation Date
No 2009
2017
No 2013
2017

REGIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS

Regional Legal Instruments
Year of Ratification (Treaty) / Transposed (Directive) / Adoption (Regulation)
Observation Date
CPCSE, Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse 2010
2010
2017
ECPT, European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment 2004
2004
2017
CATHB, Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings 2009
2009
2017
ECHRP1, Protocol 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights (amended by protocol 11) 2004
2004
2017
ECHRP7, Protocol 7 to the European Convention on Human Rights (amended by protocol 11) 2004
2004
2017
ECHRP12, Protocol 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights 2004
2004
2017
ECHR, Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (commonly known as the European Convention on Human Rights 2004
2004
2017

GOVERNANCE SYSTEM

Legal Tradition(s)
Civil law
2017

DETENTION COSTS

OUTSOURCING

FOREIGN SOURCES OF FUNDING FOR DETENTION OPERATIONS