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Opinions and Statements

Thursday, 31 December 2015

With a view to improving the arrangements provided for in the Draft Law on Gender Equality, the Protector of Citizens believes certain provisions should be further reviewed and clarified by more accurate wording. These include the provisions pertaining to the duties of local self-governments concerning the formation of gender quality bodies or appointment of a gender equality officer, the duty to provide free legal assistance to victims of domestic violence and consistent use of the term “gender equality” throughout the text.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The Protector of Citizens has issued an Opinion to the Ministry of Interior in connection with the announced staff cuts at that Ministry. Nebojša Stefanović, Minister of Interior, announced in December 2015 that between 1300 and 1400 employees “who solicited bribes and engaged in corruption” would be dismissed by the end of the year.

The Opinion states it was found from the complaints received and the media coverage of the events that the relevant job classification rulebook had recently been amended to provide for “risk analysis” posts that had hitherto not existed and for which the complainants alleged there was no real need. It was also found that many employees had been transferred to those “risk analysis” posts in late 2015; however, the job classification rulebook was slated for an amendment in early 2016 which would see those posts dropped as a cost-cutting measure.

“If there are indeed 1400 ‘criminalised’ police officers currently on the force, addressing this matter by reorganisation and staff cuts is incompatible with the rule of law (especially if the measures involved are fictitious). Instead, this issue should and must be tackled exclusively by initiating relevant investigations, meting out punishment and dismissing those found guilty”, reads the Opinion of the Protector of Citizens.

Monday, 18 January 2016

The Bill on Police purports to regulate internal affairs, organisation and powers of the Ministry of Interior, as well as other matters of relevance for the operation of the Ministry of Interior, although this goes substantially beyond the scope of police work and organisation and powers of the Police.

The effects of this discrepancy between the title of the Bill on Police and its subject matter is particularly evident in the chapter which pertains to internal and external control of police operations; thus, the Bill on Police apparently provides for the internal and external control of the Ministry of Interior. The arrangements proposed in the Bill on Police still fall short of introducing clearly defined mechanisms for democratic oversight of police work.

The authorities that are specifically designated in the Bill as external control bodies – and are even listed before the independent public authorities in charge of oversight and other authorised public authorities and bodies – are in fact not vested with any oversight powers under the Constitution. The assemblies of territorial autonomy and local self-government units, including city councils, would thus be entrusted with an oversight role, while the Protector of Citizens, as a constitutionally independent institution and the only institution explicitly authorised to oversee both the legality and the regularity of work of public authorities, is not specifically named as a body in charge of external control.

The text of the Bill will have to be improved as it pertains to rights of the child, especially with regard to child victims of criminal offences and child victims of violence, abuse and neglect, and as it pertains to security clearance procedures, special cases of termination of employment, polygraph interrogations, disciplinary liability for information “leaks” during ongoing investigations and public disclosure of information which violates citizens’ rights.

Draft Law on Amendments to the Law on Communal Police disproportionately and unnecessarily strengthens the powers of communal police officers to limit the freedoms and rights of citizens. Such changes are not necessary for the effective maintenance of public order, and past communal police experiences suggest the need for a more restrictive, not broader access to powers. The Opinion of the Ombudsman sent to the National Assembly states, inter alia, that the Draft Law also lowered the criterion for employment in communal police, and limited the number of municipal police officers depending on the population of the municipality or city for no valid reason.

Opinion with Recommendation to the Ministry of Education and Science to to create durable, sustainable and systemic conditions for the inclusion of Roma in the education system

Opinion Following the Complaint Regarding the Work of the High Judicial Council

Opinion on the Law on Official Use of Languages ​​and Scripts