No Public Debate about Candidates for the Next Commissioner
Belgrade, 2 July 2019 – The process in which the Committee for Culture and Information proposed Milan Marinovic as the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection to the National Assembly did not ensure that the choice between the candidates was based on the assessment and comparison of their qualifications, previous specific experience in the fields within the competence of the Commissioner and work plans. The reasons why this candidate was considered better than the other two candidates remain unknown to the public. In the absence of pre-set criteria for evaluation, the selection was made exclusively by voting, the outcome of which indicates that the main decision-making criteria was who proposed the candidate, rather than his/her expertise.
Only a 5 minute representation of each candidate was held, the candidates then answered questions made by the councilors who then proceeded to vote for the candidates, after which the decision was made. Out of the 11 members present, 10 members voted for the nomination of Milan Marinovic, proposed by the SNS parliamentary group. The session was not attended by 6 Committee members from the ranks of opposition parliamentary groups.
Since it’s only left for MPs to vote for or against the proposed candidate, it is clear that the election of the first man of an important independent institution takes place in a manner contrary to the principles for which more than 100 civil society organizations were in favor since November of last year. Candidates were not given the opportunity to inform the public, as well as other Parliament members (except members of the Committee) about their professional work that recommended them for this position. The process did not provide the public with the suggestions and plans of the next Commissioner to address the continuing deteriorating state of affairs in the area of access to information of public importance that has lasted since 2016 and his answers to the challenges posed by the enforcement of the Personal Data Protection Act.
Bearing in mind the entire process, the civil society organizations call upon the Ministry of State Administration and Local Self-Government to introduce provisions that would guarantee the application of the criteria of openness and transparency in the election of the Commissioner.
The signatories of this announcement are the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy, CRTA, Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights – YUCOM, Partners for Democratic Change Serbia, SHARE Foundation, Transparency Serbia and the Open Society Foundation, Serbia.