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Government should be obliged to solve problems in the field of the fight against corruption and access to information

Transparency Serbia calls upon the Committee for Justice, State Administration and Local Self-Government to determine conclusions at today's session (Monday, 26.12.2022, from 2:30 p.m.) that would oblige the Government of Serbia to solve the problems pointed out in the annual reports of the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption and Commissioner for Information.

The Assembly should oblige the Government to propose amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance that would enable the right of appeal to the Commissioner in cases where information is withheld by the Government, the President, the Supreme Court of Cassation, the Republic Public Prosecutor's Office, the Constitutional Court, the National Bank and the Assembly itself, which now it is not possible. In practice, it has been proven that the second type of protection, conducting an administrative dispute before the Administrative Court, is highly ineffective. The Government should also ensure the execution of all the Commissioner's final, enforceable, and binding decisions.

One of the GRECO recommendations, which Serbia needs to fulfil by September 30, 2023, refers to these issues, which makes our proposals even more relevant.

In connection with the Agency's report, TS indicated the necessity of amending the Law on Lobbying and the Law on Prevention of Corruption to fulfil GRECO's recommendations. Amendments to the Law on Lobbying should regulate "informal lobbying" and ensure public records of lobbying contacts. As we pointed out in the recently published research, only seven lobbying contacts were reported during the four years of application of this law, although thousands of regulations were passed during that period that affected the interests of a large number of business entities and citizens. Thus, it is evident that any potential impacts on their creation and changes remain hidden.

As for the Law on Prevention of Corruption, the necessary changes concern the regulation of conflicts of interest among advisers to high-ranking officials and the improvement of rules on preventing the abuse of public resources. Similarly, in a letter to MPs, TS reminded of the ODIHR report after the April elections, which indicates the necessity of improving the rules for financing the election campaign, which is also one of the issues within the competence of the Agency.

TS also recalls that the conclusions adopted regarding independent bodies' reports were substantive only for one year (2014), and even then, the Assembly failed to monitor their implementation. In addition, reports are usually reviewed with a long delay, which is again the case this year.