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Today, with a view to protecting the best interests and rights of the child, the Protector of Citizens requested the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance to inspect whether the citizens' association “Petnica Research Station” collected personal data of children and youth, who participated in their programs, in compliance with the Law, and the Institute for the Improvement of Education to submit data on the accreditation status of teachers’ professional development programs organized by that association.

In continuing the investigation to control competent bodies’ work regularity and legality initiated on 25 June 2021 further to media articles about Petnica program participants being sexually abused, the Protector of Citizens has addressed the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance, within the cooperation of the two independent state bodies, over suspicion that in this particular case the rights of children and youth have been violated, including the right to personal data protection.

The Protector of Citizens has requested the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance to inspect whether data gathering and processing, performed via the application form, which the association drafted and posted on its website and the children filled in when applying for one of the programs implemented by "Petnica RS", was in compliance with the Law on Personal Data Protection.

The Protector of Citizens asks the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance whether it is in accordance with the Law to collect data such as economic conditions of the family to assist in child’s additional education, whether and with which insurance organization the student is insured, student photo, mobile and home number.

In addition, the Protector of Citizens asks whether it is in accordance with the Law to gather via forms the data required during the competition, such as names of parents / guardians, vocation and occupation of parents, institutions where parents work, names and occupations of household members, and request for recommendation letters by teachers and school psychologists/ pedagogues.

Within the cooperation between the two independent state bodies, the Protector of Citizens expects the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance to inform him about potential inspections or other activities and measures that he may have taken or intends to take in this case within his remit.

The Protector of Citizens asks the Institute for the Improvement of Education to inform him as soon as possible whether in the period from 2011 to 2021 any of the programs of "Petnica RS" association was among the approved programs of teachers’ ongoing professional development, including which program it is and in what period it was approved.


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