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When law doesn’t rule
State capture of the judiciary, prosecution, police in Serbia
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Making public debate truly public

Transparency Serbia considers as inappropriate that Ministries’ and Government’s group for promotion of election process hasn’t made any effort to enable wider public and stakeholders to participate public debate on changes of three laws, and especially the media.

Public debate on changes of the Law on Anticorruption Agency, on public enterprises and financing of political activities was announced on the web-sites of the Ministries of Justice, economy and finances, and in the program of the debate there was no mention on where the debate, scheduled for 16 October, will take place.

Announcement on the public debate was published on the web-site of the Office for Cooperation with Civil society two days before the round table, also without stating the venue. Therefore, the debate, held in the Palata Srbija, was attended by only three civil society organizations that received the invitation directly from the working group - CESID, CRTA and TS. The debate was not attended by the representatives of the mediathat were not invited to this event in a way state organs usually do.

Such form of organizing of round table is especially strange having in mind that Government stated in its press release issued after holding of the round table that "public debate was initiated with the goal of involving as much as possible stakeholders from both sides of the political scene,government institutions, international and nongovernmental organizations and civil society institutions".

In the meeting itself, no openness to any recommendations of the civil society organizations was shown, that came out of the framework of what government working group formulated as draft. Related to regulating of the officials campaign, it is even explicitly stated that this matter will not be comprehended with this package of law amending.

On the other hand, press release states that "opinions, that are stated during today’s public debate,will be inserted as proposals of changes of legal regulations already on the next debate, that will be held in the next period".

TS therefore expects next public debate with unease, in the hope that Government will do everything possible to widen the circle of participants and to enable the press to report directly from it and not through press release or statements.

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