Regarding the reaction of the Provincial Ombudsman to the application of the Centre for Development of Civil Society concerning religious discrimination executed by the administration ograns in Vojvodina

The Centre for Development of Civil Society (CDCS) acclaims the Recommendation of the Provincial ombudsman addressed to the Provincial Secretariat for Regulations, Administration and National Minorities to distribute the funds from the state budget not only to traditional, but to other registered churches and religious communities as well.

This Recommendation is a response to the application submitted on 1 August 2009 by the CDCS in which the ombudsman of the AP of Vojvodina was asked to initiate a procedure of annulment of the open competition due to religious discrimination; the competition was for distribution of the funds to churches and religious communities active in the territory of AP of Vojvodina and was published by the Provincial Secretariat for National Minorities on 20 July 2009. On this occasion the CDCS asked the competition rules to be changed so that “non-traditional” churches and religious communities could enter the competition as well. The application stated that the competition rules violated the provisions of article 6 paragraph 1 of the Law on Churches and Religious Communities which guarantee equality before the law and independency from the state for all churches and religious communities. The competition rules also violate article 6 of the Law against Discrimination which says that direct discrimination exists if due to their personal characteristics (…) a person or a group of persons is put or could be put in an unfavorable position by any act, action or failure to act.

The CDCS considers such reaction of the Provincial ombudsman a support to all Provincial organs to respect the constitutional principles against discrimination in their work and not to apply an arbitrary division between “traditional” and “non-traditional” religious communities.

The CDCS observes a consistent division between registered and unregistered religious communities in the Recommendation of the Provincial ombudsman. This is all the more evidence that the statement of the Minister of Religion in which he said that unregistered religious communities had the same rights as those whose registration was entered in the Register kept by the Ministry of Religion is not true. This fact is particularly significant having in mind that in almost four years of application of the Law on Churches and Religious Communities only 12 out of 170 non-traditional religious communities have been registered and none of the non-Christian religious communities.

The Recommendation of the Provincial ombudsman addressed to the Provincial Secretariat for Regulations, Administration and National Minorities is yet another evidence of religious discrimination in Serbia generated by the Ministry of Religion.