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TS calls on MIA and HPPO to publish additional information on their actions regarding election irregularities

The information presented to the public by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), the Ministry of State Administration and Local Self-Government (MSALSG), as well as the Higher Public Prosecutor's Office (HPPO) in Belgrade, regarding allegations of illegality in the electoral list and vote buying, are not sufficient to dispel publicly expressed doubts.

Transparency Serbia has therefore invited the MIA and the HPPO in Belgrade to publish additional data on their actions and the records they keep.

When it comes to the MIA, the publication of information on the total number of citizens who resided in Belgrade on a given day before these elections and in the past is not sufficient to dispel suspicions that some citizens fictitiously changed their residence in order to participate in the polls in the capital.

That is why the Ministry of Interior should publish data so the date and municipality of each adult's registration and deregistration of residence – but without personal names and ID numbers – can be seen. By searching these data, anyone could determine whether, in the period before this or some previous elections, there was an increased migration of voters to places where local elections are held and to what extent.

The MIA should inform citizens about the number of cases in which it checked the fulfilment of the conditions for reporting a change of residence. Transparency Serbia, in its initiative to MIA, also pointed out that doubts about the fictitious relocation of voters were publicly expressed not only in Belgrade but also in the municipality of Surdulica.

In connection with publicly stated claims that certain persons have registered active residences on the territory of Serbia and other countries – which is illegal – TS asked the MIA to provide information on whether, when registering residences, the ministry verifies the fulfilment of the conditions and how it checks whether the same the person has an active residence in the territory of another country.

From the statement of the HPPO in Belgrade, it can be concluded that the prosecution office and the basic public prosecution offices in Belgrade did not, in any case, investigate on their own initiative whether any criminal offence was committed in connection with the December elections. Namely, in that statement, only an overview of the criminal complaints submitted to the prosecutor's office by other persons was published. If this is indeed the case, the prosecution did not fulfil one of its legal obligations - to "undertake criminal prosecution when there are grounds for suspicion that a criminal offence has been committed that is being prosecuted ex officio". Such grounds of suspicion, and even more than that, were available to the prosecution from media reports during the election campaign.

TS pointed out to HPPO in Belgrad two such cases in which the prosecution should have reacted without waiting for a criminal complaint. The first one refers to the case when a group of residents of New Belgrade, together with the candidate for MP Dejan Tomašević, publicly offered their vote to his election list in exchange for paving the local road. The second case refers to published recordings showing that certain persons employed in the SNS Call Center were conditioned to get a job by voting for that party in the elections and providing proof. To make matters even more strange, in this second case, according to publicly available information, two candidates for MPs also filed criminal complaints. However, that report and the action taken according to it are not mentioned in the Belgrade VJT announcement at all.