Asylum in the Republic of Serbia: Persons Entitled to Seek Asylum

According to the Law on Asylum and Temporary Protection (the Law), the right to asylum, i.e. refugee status, is granted to an applicant who is outside the country of origin or habitual residence and justifiably fears persecution because of his race, sex, language, religion, nationality, belonging to a certain social group or political belief, due to which he cannot or does not want to accept the protection of the said state.

Depending on the circumstances in the country of origin, a particular social group may also mean a group based on common characteristics of sex, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation.

In assessing whether there is a justified fear of persecution, it does not matter whether the applicant truly possesses racial, gender, religious, national, social or political characteristics, or language or gender identity characteristics that are grounds for persecution. What matters is if the perpetrator attributes such characteristics to the applicant.

Subsidiary protection is granted to an applicant who does not meet the conditions for granting the right to asylum prescribed by the Law, but there are justified reasons indicating that the applicant’s returning to the country of origin or habitual residence will result in him facing a real risk of serious injustice, and the applicant cannot or does not want, due to this risk, to accept the protection of the said state.

Serious injustice is considered to be the threat of the death penalty or execution, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as well as the serious and individual threat to life caused by general violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict.

Asylum Seeker’s Rights

  • to legally reside on the territory of Republic of Serbia as long as the asylum procedure lasts
  • to be accommodated in the Asylum Center during this procedure or to stay in a private accommodation if he / she has his / her own funds
  • to obtain an identification document
  • to move freely on the territory of Republic of Serbia
  • to have the right to health care
  • to have the right to a free interpreter and legal representative during the asylum procedure
  • to be entitled to free primary and secondary education.

Perpetrators of persecution

Perpetrators of persecution under the Law may be:

  • state authorities;
  • parties or organizations that control the state or a substantial part of the state territory;
  • non-state bodies, if it is proven that state bodies or parties, i.e. organizations that control a significant part of the state territory, including international organizations, are unable or unwilling to provide protection from persecution or suffering serious injustice.

Assessment of the Protection Possibility within the Asylum Seeker Country of Origin 

When assessing the merits of an asylum application, the possibility of protecting the applicant within the country of origin (by moving to a certain part of the country of origin or the country of usual residence) is also determined, by examining whether the following conditions are met in that case:

  • There are no justifiable reasons for fear of persecution, nor is there a danger of suffering serious injustice, or
  • The applicant can receive effective protection from persecution or serious injustice.

In assessing whether there are reasonable grounds for the applicant’s fear of persecution and whether there is a real risk of injustice, or whether the applicant has access to protection from persecution or serious injustice in any part of his country of origin, general circumstances known to that part of the country shall be taken into account, as well as personal circumstances of the applicant.

Assessment of facts and circumstances

The applicant is obliged to cooperate with the Asylum Office and to enclose all available documentation and present accurate and true data related to identity, age, citizenship, family members, country and address of previous residence, previous requests, movement after leaving the country of origin, personal and travel documents and the reasons on which his asylum application is based.

In deciding on the merits of an asylum application, the Asylum Office shall collect and consider all relevant facts, evidence and circumstances, taking into account in particular:

  • relevant facts and evidence provided by the claimant, including information on whether or not he or she would be subject to persecution or the risk of suffering serious injustice;
  • up-to-date reports on the situation in the applicant’s country of origin or habitual residence and, where applicable, on the countries through which he has travelled, including the laws and regulations of those countries and how they are applied – contained in various sources of international organizations, such as the UNHCR and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), as well as other human rights organizations;
  • the applicant’s position and personal circumstances, including his or her gender and age, in order to assess whether the acts to which he or she has been or may be subjected to constitute persecution or serious injustice;
  • whether the applicant’s activities from the moment he left the country of origin were aimed at creating decisive conditions for granting the right to asylum, in order to assess whether these activities could expose the applicant to persecution or to the serious injustice risk if he returned to that country;
  • whether the applicant can obtain the protection of the state whose citizenship he could prove.

The fact that the applicant has already been subjected to persecution or to the risk of suffering serious injustice, or that the applicant has already been subjected to threats of such persecution or threats of serious injustice, is an indication that there is a justified fear of persecution or serious injustice, unless there are reasonable grounds to believe that such persecution or serious injustice will not happen again.

The statement of the applicant is considered credible in the part in which a certain fact or circumstance is not supported by evidence:

  • if the applicant has made a sincere effort to substantiate his claim with evidence;
  • if all relevant elements available to him have been submitted, with a satisfactory explanation as to why other relevant facts are missing;
  • if it has been established that the applicant’s statements are consistent and acceptable, as well as that they do not contradict specific and general information that is relevant for deciding on the asylum application;
  • if the applicant has expressed an intention to seek asylum as soon as possible or has justified why he or she has not done so;
  • if the general credibility of the applicant’s statement has been established.

Reasons for denying the right to asylum

The right to asylum will not be granted to the applicant if there are reasonable grounds on the basis of which it is considered that he has committed, incited, or otherwise participated in the execution of:

  • crimes against peace, war crimes or crimes against humanity, in accordance with the provisions contained in international conventions adopted to prevent such crimes;
  • a serious crime of a non-political nature, committed outside the territory of the Republic of Serbia before the applicant entered the territory of the Republic of Serbia;
  • acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations, as set out in the Preamble and Art. 1 and 2 of the Charter of the United Nations.
  •  The right to asylum will not be granted to an applicant who poses a threat to the national security and public order of the Republic of Serbia.
  •  The right to asylum will not be granted to an applicant who already has an approved stay in a state that recognizes to him / her the same rights and obligations as to the citizens of that state.
  •  The right to asylum will not be granted to an applicant who enjoys protection or receives assistance from a United Nations body or agency other than UNHCR. If protection or assistance ceases for any reason beyond the control of the applicant and his or her situation is not finally resolved in accordance with the relevant resolutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, he or she shall be granted the right to asylum.

Reasons for denial of subsidiary protection

Subsidiary protection shall not be granted to an applicant if there are serious grounds on which he is considered to have committed, instigated or otherwise participated in the execution of:

  • crimes against peace, war crimes or crimes against humanity, in accordance with the provisions contained in international conventions adopted to prevent such crimes;
  • a serious criminal offense (a criminal offense for which, according to the legislation of the Republic of Serbia, a prison sentence of five years or a heavier sentence may be imposed)
  • acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations, as set out in the Preamble and Art. 1 and 2 of the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Subsidiary protection will not be granted to an applicant who poses a threat to the national security and public order of the Republic of Serbia.