Citizens, the CRTA and the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Data Protection have managed together to oblige the REM to improve the protection of personal data collected from applicants.

The Regulatory Authority of Electronic Media issued an order requiring its employees to pay more attention to the processing of personal data, and to take all technical, personnel and organisational measures necessary to protect the data from unauthorised access, disclosure and any other misuse, as it was stated in the letter sent by the REM on March 19th to the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Data Protection. As stated in the letter, the order was forwarded to the executive director, general secretary and to all chiefs of services in the REM.

The Commissioner warned the REM about the illegal processing of personal data after  the CRTA submitted a request for supervision of the work of the regulatory body because the REM published 189 e-mail addresses of citizens who filed complaints regarding broadcasting of the Serbian Progressive Party video clip on TV Prva and TV Happy  via an online form  made by the CRTA.

This is a small victory that shows that citizens have the power and that they can both protect and defend their rights and increase the accountability of institutions. We will continue a joint fight.

We wish to thank all citizens who participated in the action #ProbudiREM (Wake up the REM).

 

CRTA presented recommendations for improvement of electoral conditions by 2020 at the conference held on March 25, 2019 at the Media Center Belgrade.

Following its systematic observation of the elections in previous three years, CRTA developed 60 detailed recommendations for improvement of electoral conditions, also available on the gradjaninastrazi.rs website. At the conference, CRTA presented the recommendations which could influence improvements if addressed by the 2020 elections and which enjoy the greatest citizen support.

“Implementation of these recommendations is possible and necessary in order to bring improvements of electoral conditions. We have reduced the focus to legislative changes to a minimum and have instead emphasized the need for changes of the electoral practice. With these concrete measures proposed we want to contribute to the opening of a dialogue about improvements of electoral conditions in Serbia”, CRTA Director Vukosava Crnjanski stated.

“Voters’ confidence in the election process decreases, while election irregularities no longer relate to the election day only, but are largely connected to the election campaign period”, emphasized Rasa Nedeljkov, CRTA Program Director.

“Abuse of public resources, public officials’ campaigning, pressure on employees in the public sector, along with unequal media coverage of electoral contestants are the main areas where legislative interventions are needed. On the other hand, the least demanding area is related to the transparency of the electoral process, where updating of the voters list, publishing the polling board records and enabling access to accredited observers to all segments of the elections are necessary”, said Nedeljkov.

He pointed out that larger and more complex changes are needed in protection of voting rights and strengthening professional capacities of the election administration, areas where particular attention was dedicated within recommendations.

Results of the public opinion research “Audit of Political Engagement in Serbia 2018” were also presented at the conference. The Research showed that majority of citizens recognize voting in elections as a mechanism of democratic participation that could bring changes, while the trend of higher support to democracy as the best political system, with decreasing support to the strongman politics, was also recorded. On the other hand, citizens’ trust in the core institutions of democracy is low, and only 11% of citizens believe no irregularities were identified in previous elections, said Vujo Ilic, CRTA Lead Researcher.

“We may see that significant percentage of citizens clearly understand the problems of election irregularities, show support to initiatives aimed at improvement of electoral conditions and are aware of the need for an independent election observation. However, much less citizens express support to the boycott of elections as a mean to answer these demands. The results of the research point to further polarization of society and the need for opening of a dialogue on improvements of electoral conditions”, assessed Ilic.

The entire panel discussion is available here.

Konferencija “Kako do boljih izbornih uslova u Srbiji?” #Izbori2020

Gepostet von CRTA am Montag, 25. März 2019

Civil society organisations warn that is has been three months since the mandate of the former Commissioner Rodoljub Šabić expired. The competent Culture and Information Committee of the Assembly has not yet initiated the process of selection of the new Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection. The process of selecting a new commissioner should begin without delay as this is in the best interests of citizens, institutions, the state and of the rule of law in general.

We would like to remind that in November last year, 70 civil society organisations, media, business, professional and scientific communities representatives launched the initiative to open a transparent process of selection of the new Commissioner. A public request was submitted, but the Culture and Information Committee refused to consider it although the aforesaid organisations had put forward a proposal for well-defined criteria for selection of the candidate. It was stated that all candidates should possess relevant professional knowledge and experience in the area of data protection and access to information of public importance,  that they were not connected to any political party, that they had not violated the law, professional rules and standards.

Bearing in mind that the institution of the Commissioner, as a mechanism of a democratic society, has been established in order to protect citizens’ rights and interests, we consider that postponing the selection of the new Commissioner is an expression of contempt not only for that institution, but also for citizens whose constitutional and legal rights it protects. On the other hand, the postponement of the Commissioner’s selection for an indefinite period, or the selection of a new commissioner who would depend exclusively on political support and not on the competence of the candidate, could jeopardise the fulfilment of their role.

Non-governmental organisations that primarily advocate protection of citizens’ rights have once again urged the Culture and Information Committee of the Assembly to initiate without further ado the process of selection of the new Commissioner who will protect the Serbian citizens’ privacy and rights to access information about the work of public authorities in the next seven years.

 

The organizations who support this initiative are:

Partners for Democratic Change Serbia

Transparency Serbia

SHARE Foundation

Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCBP)

Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM)

Bureau for Social Research (BIRODI)

Open Society Foundation

CRTA

The Union of Informed Citizens (UIC), an Armenian civil society organization, received the OSCE Democracy Defender Award for 2019. The award ceremony took place on March 11 in Vienna, and was attended by CRTA Director Vukosava Crnjanski as a representative of the last year’s Democracy Defender Award recipient.

A total of 36 OSCE delegations presented the award to the Union of Informed Citizens for its outstanding contribution to promoting independent journalism and informed decision making, as well as to strengthening election monitoring in Armenia.

The Democracy Defender Award was established in 2016 with an aim to honor a person or a group for exceptional contributions to the promotion of democracy and the defense of human rights in the spirit of the Helsinki Final Act and other OSCE principles and values.

Director of CRTA as the previous Democracy Defender awardee had the honor to address the participants at the ceremony.

“We see that we share similar struggles with democracy defenders across the region that is increasingly affected by crisis and threats to democracy, and shrinking space for the work of democracy advocates. This is why the recognition of civil society through the Democracy Defender Award brings enormous support and motivation to all of us committed to safeguard citizens’ rights and freedoms”, said Vukosava Crnjanski.

CRTA team congratulated the new recipient of the award through video broadcast.

Democracy Defenders Award

Ne postoji jednostavan recept za odbranu demokratije ali ono što je sigurno je da je ne možemo odbraniti bez hrabrih i slobodnih građana i aktivnog i solidarnog civilnog društva! Sve čestitke borcima za demokratiju u Jermeniji – Union of Informed Citizens, dobitnicima #DemocracyDefenderAward 2019!

Gepostet von CRTA am Montag, 11. März 2019

 

In the framework of the Open Parliament initiative, The Centre for Research, Transparency and Accountability (CRTA)
conducted the sixth consecutive “Audit of political engagement in Serbia” with the support of Ipsos Strategic Marketing.
First two audits (from 2013 and 2014) were supported by the British Embassy in Belgrade and National Democratic
Institute. The aim of this audit was to determine the level of the Serbian citizens’ readiness to participate in democratic processes
that imply a series of different forms of citizen participation – from voting at the elections to initiating particular
campaigns; and monitoring the changes of the degree of participation in time. This audit represents a particular overview of the democratic situation in society. The extent to which the citizens are
ready to engage in social processes, to exercise their civil rights and to influence the decision makers is an indicator of
“the state of health” of a society.

In this document, we have mentioned only those recommendations that CRTA believes could be implemented by the time of 2020 elections, with the help of the political will and understanding between the relevant actors, as these recommendations realisation would be an essential start for systematic and complete improvement of election process quality.

Citizens’ mistrust in the election process is growing year by year. In order to reinstate the citizens’ confidence in the electoral process and in institutions implementing the elections, it is vital to improve transparency and openness of the entire electoral process. The citizens’ confidence might be reinstated if competent institutions, above all the Republic Electoral Commission, timely published all data relevant to the electoral process. Besides, the way in which institutions act upon citizens’ reports on irregularities during the elections should be improved. Serious deficiencies in the voters’ register, its administration and updates significantly affect the confidence of citizens in the electoral process.

The electoral administration should move towards the professionalisation of the work as far as both electoral commissions and polling station committees are concerned. Electoral commissions ought to have greater authorities and to consist of jurists independent of political influences. Furthermore, the current way of conducting trainings of polling committees’ members does not produce the results expected in practice and should be therefore systematised and improved.

The electoral administration is often impelled to interpret various parallel laws and regulations which, given the low capacity of professional services, diminishes legal security in the area of electoral law and reduces the confidence of citizens in the electoral process. The electoral legislation should be codified into a single electoral code that would compile in one place all provisions from different laws directly related to the electoral process. Short deadlines foreseen for filing objections are one of the main causes that prevent voters from protecting their electoral rights.

Equality of participants in the election race depends not only on the unequal resources they have, which is the topic we addressed in the first part of recommendations for the improvement of the electoral conditions, but also on the institutional advantages that the election rules give to different participants, as well as the uneven coverage of candidates or representatives of the lists in media. Rules regulating the conduct of elections should guarantee equal conditions for all electoral contestants, including their equal representation in the media.