STOP DISINTEGRATION OF THE OMBUDSMAN INSTITUTION
January 28, 2012
The alliance of human rights associations, the Human Rights and Democracy House (Civic Initiatives, Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia and Policy Centre), requires from the Government of the Republic of Serbia to stop the attempts of the Ministry of Justice to reduce the Ombudsman’s competences, thus jeopardising the operation of one of rare independent institutions in Serbia.
According to “Blic”, through the opinion given by the Ministry of Justice to draft Law on Amendment of the Law on Ombudsman, the Ministry is trying to exempt the control over the work of State Council of Prosecutors and High Judicial Council from the Ombudsman’s competences, as well as to reduce the Ombudsman’s mandate. Exemption of the mentioned authorities from the Ombudsman’s control is an obvious revenge for the Ombudsman’s opinion about the High Judicial Council’s work, which he deems illegal in incomplete composition, as well as all the decision made in such circumstances.
Reduction of competences of an institution addressing the protection of human rights would present reduction of the achieved level of human rights protection in Serbia, which is prohibited by the Constitution and international agreements in this field. We are reminding the public that the Ombudsman’s mandate of seven years is one of the measures to prevent that the election for this function depends on the current Assembly composition, thus on the political willingness of the governing majority.
According to the assessments of all international and national institutions and organisations addressing human rights, the Ombudsman has succeeded in establishing an independent and professional institution in the past period, which is one of rare barriers for violation of human rights and unprofessional work of state administration in Serbia. The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Serbia has been endangering human rights and rule of law in Serbia with its acting for longer period of time, supporting unconstitutional and illegal decisions of the High Judicial Council, and is responsible for one of most unsuccessful reforms in Serbia since 5 October 2000.
The Human Rights and Democracy House is determined to persist in the defence of all independent institutions which do their job responsibly and professionally. Reduction of the Ombudsman’s competences and mandate would present a clear message of the Government to the citizens that those who fight for human rights in Serbia are being punished and that development of rule of law in the country is not an option anymore. All political parties which support this opinion of the Ministry of Justice, especially Democratic Party, officials of which are conducting this Ministry, will be responsible for endangering the rule of law in Serbia and for reduction of the achieved level of human rights protection.