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A call to the prosecution to react to the illegal appointment of the acting director

Transparency Serbia called on the Republic Public Prosecutor's Office (RPPO) to file a lawsuit against the violation of the law to the detriment of the public interest, i.e. to initiate an administrative dispute to challenge the legality of the decision on the retroactive appointment of Filip Radović as acting director of the Environmental Protection Agency.

At the session held on April 15, 2021, the Government of Serbia appointed Radović to the position of acting director of the Agency, but retroactively for three months, starting from 9 October 2020. Before that, Radović was the Director of the Agency from 22 February 2013, to 19 March 2015, when he was first appointed to the position of acting director. He was appointed acting director 20 more times, every three months on a regular basis and once for six months. Before the actual retroactive appointment, Radović was appointed retroactively five more times, but then there were delays of one to nine days.

Pointing to the legal framework, prescribed restrictions and prohibitions, TS stated in the letter to RPPO that it can be reasonably assumed that the adoption of the latest decision aims to, through retroactive appointment, legalize the acts that the former acting director passed in the period when he had no right to make decisions on behalf of the agency.

“On this occasion, we recall that these are not insignificant acts, but acts according to which the basic and most important rights and interests of other persons were decided. The illustrative case of the importance of these acts is from November 2020, when Milenko Jovanović was fired as the head of the Air Quality Department at the Serbian Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA). At that time Filip Radović did not have the status of the agency’s acting director, more precisely - his term of office ended”, TS recalls in the letter.

Jovanovic claimed that he was fired because he opposed the director's decision to change and ease the criteria for assessing air quality without the approval of experts. The agency however stated that the employee was fired because he did not provide "adequate maintenance of most measuring stations, which are therefore inadmissibly neglected". Jovanović denied such statement. He was returned to work at the SEPA by the decision of the Higher Court in Belgrade - until the end of the court proceedings that he initiated after the termination of the employment contract.

Transparency Serbia also sent a memo to the Prime Minister indicating this case and legal provisions. TS called on the Government to stop the practice of such "legalization" while creating the illusion that the decisions of citizens whose status as acting director expired were made by the law.