The Belgrade Centre for Human Rights submitted an initiative for an inspection of the work of the Požarevac General Hospital, after the latter refused to allow access to or hand over the body of a still-born baby to its parents. The BCHR filed the initiative for the inspection of the work of the Požarevac hospital and, if necessary, initiation of misdemeanour proceedings together with the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights – YUCOM and the A11 Initiative for Economic and Social Rights. The initiative was launched after media reported in late 2019 that the Požarevac General Hospital refused to allow access to or hand over the body of a still-born baby to its parents. The video footage published on the Internet showed the Hospital Director telling the parents that still-born children were treated as foetuses and that the body would be disposed of in accordance with the Medical Waste Rulebook.
The Hospital Director’s explanation why the parents could not take over the body of their still-born child to bury it is unprofessional and problematic on a number of levels from the perspective of national law, especially given the climate of fear and concerns among parents caused by the case of missing babies.
The BCHR, the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights – YUCOM and the A11 Initiative for Economic and Social Rights expect of the relevant authorities to immediately respond to its initiative in order to dispel any suspicions about the intentions of the Požarevac General Hospital management in this case and to allow the parents to access the body of their still-born child and bury it.
Under Article 205 of the Health Care Act, health institutions must provide adult family members direct access to the bodies of their deceased family members to verify their identity. Article 48 of the Civil Registers Act lays down that the birth of still-born children must be reported within 24 hours. We would also like to recall that the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers has found Serbia responsible for failing to ascertain what has happened to a large number of new-borns who went missing from maternity wards over the previous decades and instructed it to put in place an effective mechanism to clarify the fate of the missing babies.