The Law on Enforcement still directed against the most vulnerable

Photo: Iskra Krstić / Mašina

Stronger and more powerful creditors will continue to torture the most vulnerable members of the society, states the United Action Roof Over One’s Head (Združena akcija Krov nad glavom). Regarding the announced Amendments to the Law on Enforcement and Security activists will organise a protest on Sunday in Beolgrade.

This will result in increase in poverty and number of homeless in Serbia, while the problem of insufficient control of the work of enforcement officers will remain.

This law does not recognise the right to have a home and home is not excluded as object of enforcement – this is in our opinion the main problem. Besides, the Draft of the amendment criminalises solidarity of citizens, which will make it more difficult for us to act as well as for other citizens who have showed their solidarity with the most vulnerable members of our society and defended them from evictions of their homes. Fines were introduced as well as prison for those who defend people, points out Aleksa Petković, activist of the United Action Roof Over One’s Head.

In the previous period there has been an increase in the number of cases of people evicted from their homes, which is a violation of the right to have a home. There are many cases of people who lost roofs over their heads due to very small debts or because they had bought apartments that were already under debts without knowing it.

As we have previously written, evictions are becoming a growing threat for the citizens of Serbia who are burdened by debts.

In our poor society, the only valuable thing that people have is a home. Therefore, if they are evicted from their homes, many people will find themselves in the street because they do not have other place to go. The consequences of this law will be deepening of poverty and increase in the number of homeless. The principle of proportion is often breached – people are evicted from their homes because of very low debts, adds Petković.

The cause for this is the enforcement officers’ motive to gain the profit, which represents a particular problem. The control of the work of enforcement officers almost does not exist. Since their profit directly depends on sales of apartments, it is in their interest to have as many cases of evictions as possible.

Enforcement officer are actually private entrepreneurs, however, they can obtain court authorisations. Furthermore, the Anti-Corruption Council finds such provisions problematic. They are not independent because they are private entrepreneurs who have an interest in making profit. The way in which conclusions on enforcement are communicated is also problematic. They try to withhold the information form the debtor as long as possible. Sometimes, they inform people who are about to be evicted only a couple of days before the enforcement and sometimes the police simply shows up at the door, without notice. Nevertheless, even though such provisions exist, we will continue to fight for the rights of the most vulnerable – concludes Petković.

The state actively creates a frame in which there is no space for the disenfranchised part of the population. People burdened by debts who also might be victims of frauds can only fight against the banks, lawyer’s offices and private enforcement officers who have the help and protection of the police. However, solidarity and collective resistance against evictions are spreading.

L.P.

Translation from Serbian: Jelena Mandić

This article was originally published in Serbian on May 17, 2019.

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