no. 07-00-316/2023-02 date: 12.9.2023.
The opinion was issued in the procedure regarding the complaint that AA from S. filed against B.B., due to discrimination based on nationality and language. The complaint stated that B.B. issued the complainant a Certificate in which the taxpayer’s name and surname were written in Cyrillic. In the complaint, it was further stated that the complainant’s right to use his personal name and surname was denied by issuing a certificate in the Cyrillic script. In the statement of the Head of the Department B.B., it was stated, among other things, that the tax official acted with the best of intentions when issuing the Certificate, in accordance with the Law on the Official Use of Languages and Scripts, as well as that she had no intention of challenging any right of the person who requested issuance of the Certificate. It was further stated that all the data available to the tax official were in the Cyrillic script, which is why the Certificate was issued in that script. According to the further statements of the Head of the Department, the complainant did not submit a written request that his name and surname on the Certificate be written in Latin script, explaining that A.A. verbally requested that his name and surname be written in Latin script without clarifying that he is a member of a national minority. It follows from the further allegations of the statement that B.B., after receiving the Commissioner’s letter, contacted the complainant by telephone. On this occasion, the taxpayer pointed out that he did not want a new Certificate on which the name and surname would be written in the script of the national minority, but only an assurance that in the future, when he requests it, he will receive the Certificate in the language and script of the national minority. After the conducted procedure and presented evidence, among other things, it was determined that B.B. issued Certificate no. 236-437-06-3905-2023-0000, on June 2, 2023, in which it was established that it was issued based on the data available to the Department, in order to obtain a loan. It was further established that the Certificate was written in the Serbian language and Cyrillic script. When deciding on the case, the Commissioner especially took into account that the provisions of Article 12, Paragraph 4 of the Law on the Official Use of Languages and Scripts stipulate, among other things, that when one party – a member of a national minority – participates in the proceedings, the proceedings are conducted, at their request, in the language of the national minority that is in official use in the administrative body. Bearing in mind the above, as well as the fact that it follows from the allegations of the statement that the taxpayer did not request in writing that his name and surname be written on the certificate of the national minority, more precisely, that he did not clarify that he is a member of the national minority during the oral request, the Commissioner is of the opinion that in this particular case, the complainant was not prevented from using the language and script of the national minority. In this particular case, it is important to note that an arbitrary interpretation of the nationality of a person based only on the name and surname is not a valid way of determining nationality, that is, it is necessary to point out that, in accordance with the Constitution, the nationality of a person can only be determined by the person’s free declaration of nationality affiliation. Taking into account all of the above, it can be stated that by the actions of B.B., when issuing the tax certificate, the complainant was not put in an unreasonably disadvantageous position for reasons related to his personal characteristics – nationality and language. Therefore, the Commissioner issued an opinion that B.B. did not violate the provisions of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination. However, bearing in mind that the preservation of the identity of national minorities depends to a large extent on ensuring respect for the right to equal use of the mother tongue and script, the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, in accordance with Article 33, Item 9, of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination, which stipulates that the Commissioner recommends to public authorities and other persons measures for the realization of equality, sends the recommendation of measures to B.B. to take the necessary measures and prepare a request form that will be available in the language and script of national minorities, which is, according to the Statute of the city of S., in official use.
COMMISSIONER FOR THE PROTECTION OF EQUALITY