Sisak, September 15, 2022
SUBJECT: consultation report – Draft proposal of the Act on Amendments to the Act on State registries, with the Draft of the final proposal of the Act
The e-consultation on the Draft proposal on Amendments to the Act on State Registries was opened in August 2022, closed on September 2, and the Report on the consultation was published in mid-September.
A total of 3 comments were made on the subject Draft of the Act on Amendments to the Act on State Registries, together with the Draft of the final proposal of the Act. Of these, all 3 /three/ comments were noted; and give the same answer to all three proposals/comments. All three comments refer to Article 9 of the Law, i.e. to the entry/change of the fact of nationality (which is ethnicity in most of the other countries) in the birth register. There were no other comments.
The users who gave their comments, in addition to the CRP Sisak, were the Office of the Ombudsman /UPP/ and the European Civil Initiative Zagreb. UPP mentions CRP Sisak in its comment, we quote:
“Back in 2016, in the implementation of the CRP Sisak project, the goal of which was to encourage and help people of Roma origin to declare themselves as members of the Roma national minority, in order to be able to exercise the rights that belong to them, our institution was informed that state administration, based on Art. 9 of the Act on State Registers, reject requests to change the data on nationality entered during the basic registration in the birth register.”
Therefore, the association CRP Sisak initiated the amendment of the provisions of Art. 9 of the Act on State Registers (Official Gazette 96/93 and 76/13) during 2016, and again in 2020 and in mid-May 2022, due to the fact that the current legal regulations do not allow changing the nationality once declared in the birth register. This includes the situation where the nationality is not registered, and it cannot be subsequently registered after reaching the age of majority.
On the preliminary assessment form for the Draft Bill on Amendments to the Act on State Registries in mid-July 2022 at the e-consultation, the CRP made a comment/proposal for changes to Art. 9 of the Act on State Registries, which we repeat: We have been warning about the issue of this legal impossibility of legitimate expression of nationality for many years, because we are daily faced with the fact that the current legislation needs to be changed. This is particularly noticeable in the case of members of the Roma national minority, because their parents most often state at the basic registration that the child’s nationality is Croat/Croatian, i.e., the majority nation, or something else, and in the voter register such a person is listed as a member of the Roma national minority. In this regard, it will be difficult for such persons to exercise the rights that belong to them based on belonging to the Roma national minority, because in most cases the exercise of certain rights is achieved by submitting a birth certificate in which there is proof of ethnic affiliation. So, in some cases, a situation arises where one person has two nationalities at the same time, and thus the actual number of members of a certain national minority cannot be determined in the voter list. The indicated comment/suggestion has been noted. The Ministry of Justice and Administration / hereinafter referred to as MPU/ states in its response that information that was not or could not be known at the time of initial registration, and which affect the personal status of a person, is subsequently entered in the birth register. It is also stated that there is no record of nationality, and that there is no special regulation that would determine the procedure for changing nationality. CRP Sisak once again emphasizes the importance/necessity of subsequent changes to data on the nationality that was registered (or not registered) during the basic registration, because its change at a certain moment affects the personal status of the individual, the exercise of his/her status rights, for example Roma. Namely, if information about nationality is irrelevant, as the MPU claims, because no records are kept about nationality and belonging to a certain nation is not proven by a document, why is such information entered and used in the basic registration at all? As there is a procedure for changing one’s personal name, citizenship, gender, it is necessary to regulate the procedure for changing nationality and pass a legal act that will regulate it. Every individual in a certain period of his life, if he wishes, can change his/her personal name or surname and/or other data, and the question arises why he/she could not change his/her nationality at his/her own will?
In its response, the MPU continues to stand by its thesis that the birth certificate proves the fact of birth, but not nationality, which is formally legal, however, practice shows that the impossibility of subsequently changing nationality affects the regulation of the personal status of citizens.
Furthermore, the MPU states in its response that all the rights of members of national minorities (for example, exercising the right to vote based on nationality) are exercised on the basis of a declaration of nationality, and not on the basis of data entered in the birth register or shown on an extract from mothers of births. Given that information about nationality entered in the voter register affects certain rights, this information in the voter register can be changed in a very simple procedure before the competent administrative body of the county or the City of Zagreb or through the e-Citizens system within the e- Voters. After submitting a request to change nationality data through the e-Citizens system, a notification about the change is received in the citizens’ user mailbox. However, the Ministry of Justice and Administration failed to take into account the fact that the fundamental provision of the Law on the Voter’s Register establishes the structure, content and method of keeping the voter register, the procedure for registration, correction, deletion, conclusion, extracting and issuing of documents, and the method of data processing for elections and referendums, and is the same lex specialis. So, these are two different things, and proving nationality is by no means and should not be the domain of the voter register.
CRP Sisak also proposes that through the administrative procedure in the registry of births it is possible to subsequently change the registered nationality, because the determination of nationality at birth is given by the parents, and not by the individual voluntarily.
CRP Sisak emphasizes that CRP is not in favor of not showing the data in question in the state registers, as the Ministry states at the end of its response, because the question arises of where a person’s nationality will be shown, including belonging to a national minority, which is important in the Republic of Croatia in accordance with the Constitutional Law on the rights of national minorities and other legal regulations and the Government Office for Human Rights and the Rights of National Minorities, the Council for National Minorities and others. The question arises why all these offices and legal regulations exist. The list of voters is of course not a solution. In the distant future, in the Republic of Croatia, nationality/ethical affiliation, we hope, will not be important, and then one can think about not expressing it.
CRP Sisak will continue to contribute to the construction of administrative practice in amending the legal regulations for a better system in the domain of state registries in the Republic of Croatia, and for the purpose of protecting and promoting civil rights.