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The public denied the debate on candidates for Commissioner

The process in which the Committee on Culture and Information proposed to the National Assembly Milan Marinović as Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Protection of Personal Data, did not ensure that the selection of candidates was made on the basis of an assessment and comparison of their qualifications, previous specific experience in the areas of competence of the Commissioner and work plans. The reasons why the candidate voted by the Board is better than the non-candidate, remained unknown to the public. In the absence of pre-set evaluation criteria, selection was made solely by voting, the outcome of which indicates that the main criterion for deciding was who proposed the candidate, not his / her expertise.

The decision of the Committee on Culture and Information on Marinović's candidacy was preceded by only a five-minute presentation of each candidate, answering the candidate's questions and voting for each individual candidate. Of the 11 members present, 10 have voted in favor of Milan Marinović, nominated by the SNS parliamentary group. The session was not attended by 6 members of the Committee from the opposition parliamentary groups.

Since members of Parliament have to vote in favor or against the proposed candidate, it is clear that the election of the first person of an important independent institution is proceeding in a manner contrary to the principles advocated by more than 100 civil society organizations, since November last year. The candidates were not given the opportunity to inform the public and members of Parliament (except members of the Committee) of their professional work, recommending them for this function. The process also did not provide introducing of public with the proposals and plans of the future Commissioner to solve the problem of continuing deterioration in the area of ​​access to information of public importance, that has been ongoing since 2016, and the responses to the challenges posed by the implementation of the Law on Personal Data Protection.

Considering the whole course of the process, civil society organizations are calling on the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government to introduce in the draft amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance, provisions that would guarantee the application of the criteria of openness and transparency in the election of commissioners.

The signatories of this statement are Belgrade Center for Security Policy, CRTA, Committee of Lawyers for Human Rights - YUCOM, Partners for Democratic Change Serbia, SHARE Foundation, Transparency Serbia and Open Society Foundation Serbia.