Unconfirmed Information Obtained in Investigations Threaten the Free Elections
Election Monitoring Centre of the Human Rights House (hereinafter: Centre) demands that police, Public Prosecution and security agencies stop disseminating the information obtained in investigations and aimed to be used in the election campaign. Free and fair elections in Serbia are seriously threatened by disseminating the information obtained in investigation to media with an aim to discredit the politicians.
Arresting and investigating of Branko Lazarevic, Charge d’affaires of the Serbian Embassy in Athens, turned into a tool of political struggle ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections. On Thursday, 20 February 2014, several daily newspapers published the same information obtained from the “source close to investigation“ according to which Lazarevic had accused the leader of Socialist Party of Serbia, Ivica Dacic, for cooperating with criminals. Since there is no chance that such a large number of media reached the same source by investigative journalism, it is clear that the information (or misinformation) was consciously released to media.
Data obtained in the course of investigation and its disclosure should result in initiation of serious investigations within all institutions that have disclosed such data. Such practice is pretty dangerous and threatens the institutions and rule of law in Serbia. The citizens do not know whether such information is true, neither do journalists, and there is no way to check it through an independent source. Consequently, there is a huge probability that human rights of persons declared as criminals are violated.
The Centre calls on all media in Serbia not to broadcast the information tendentiously delivered to them by various cabinets and centers of political power and ensure thus at least minimum conditions for free and fair election campaign. Otherwise, they will become the accomplices in gross destruction of the rule of law in Serbia and human rights violation.
Election Monitoring Centre of the Human Rights House will continue to monitor the existing conditions for free and fair elections in Serbia, and regularly inform the public on its findings.
Human Rights House consists of:
– Civic Initiatives
– Belgrade Centre for Human Rights
– Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights – YUCOM
– Helsinki Committee for Human Rights
– Policy Center