Successfuly solved court case
Successfuly solved court case

      Having the identity ensures a brighter future in front of us 

 

“Upon receipt of the documents our lives have changed” these were the first words of the father of Merkim, Mirsad and Mirsada during submission of civil status documents from CRP/K.

Their story is a story of successes as a result of ongoing assistance offered by UNHCR and its legal aid partner CRP/K. Being at risk of statelessness, they shared the fate of many Roma, Ashkalia and Egyptian children, unregistered and without access to their elementary rights.   

Merkim (17 years old), Mirsad (14 years old) and Mirsada (13 years old), were born in Montenegro, respectively in Podgorica, in a health institution from an extramarital community. Their father Elimson was born in Kosovo, while their mother Bedrije in Montenegro. During 1999, due to the armed conflict in Kosovo, Elimson together with his family moved in Montenegro, where he meets Bedrije, a local girl who was not registered and neither was Elimson. During the year 2000, they engage in an extramarital community from which three children were born.  

With the thought that the possession of personal documents would enable her to give birth at a health institution and also equip her children with birth certificates, Bedrije decided to use the identity and insurance card of another person. As a consequence of this decision, Bedrije and Elimson faced various difficulties during registration of their children. Although the children were registered in Birth Records in Podgorica and were provided with birth certificates, the data in the mother section were not accurate.  

In 2012, Bedrije was allowed to register and equipped with civil status documents, including passport, issued by institutions in Montenegro. In addition, during 2014, following the UNHCR and CRP/K assistance, the registration of Elimson in civil status registries of Kosovo and provision with all necessary documents including passport was made possible. Furthermore, as a result of assistance provided, CRP/K has managed to formalize their marriage in front of Municipal Civil Status Office in Kosovo.  

As part of UNHCR’s returnee program, in 2014, family decides to return in Kosovo. Upon their return, UNHCR and CRP/K visited them. They described their process of return as a discouraging experience.  

Without children’s documents and access to different elementary rights such as education, free movement, social assistance,  they faced various difficulties in their integration in Kosovo society.         

Their mother Bedrije was unhappy with the fact that her children are not in possession of civil status documents. “How can I convince others that these are my children when we don’t have any documents”, she added. 

Despite constant efforts to provide these children with civil status documents of Kosovo, it was not possible through administrative procedure since the data regarding their mother in the birth certificates issued by institutions in Montenegro were contradictory with the documents that their biological mother possessed.

The created situation raised the need for this case to be initiated in court procedure. In meantime, the participation of the parties involved in the procedure was another challenge faced by UNHCR and CRP/K, however as a result of ongoing efforts their presence at court section was made possible. The lawsuit filed from CRP/K on opposing the motherhood was submitted at the competent Court in Kosovo in February 2017.    

After administration of evidence, hearing of parties and taking into account the interest of the children, the judge of the case at the main session brought the final verdict, confirming the biological mother, as well as obliging the Municipal Civil Status Office to register them. The efficient and prompt appraisal of this case should be acknowledged as an example of effective functioning of judiciary system, representing a  precedent that has created a space for adressing cases of the same nature in the future. For the first time since their birth, Merkim, Mirsad and Mirsada were provided with all necessary documents.   

In the meantime, the court verdict through the UNHCR office was sent to respective state authorities in Montenegro in order to make the necessary changes in the birth records in Podgorica. Today, all the members of the family enjoy its rights, most importantly the children are no longer undocument. Just as the other children of their age they are enjoying their rights to education and free movement, making their integration into the social and economic life of the country easier.