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Opinions and Statements

Irregularities in the implementation of the final exam in school year 2018/2019, such as those which occurred in the school year 2012/2013, occurred because employees at printing plants engaged at printing and packing of tests, illegally obtained tests and made them available to public. The fact that illegal conduct on both occasions occurred at printing plants outside the education system, which had agreements with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development binding them not only to perform their task but also to keep the test confidentiality, shows that trusting these tasks to legal entities which are not a part of the educational system and are not subjected to the control of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development is a “weak link” and an important risk factor in the organization of the final exam. This is stated among other things in the Opinion with recommendations of the Protector of Citizens issued to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development.

In the process of control implemented by the sector competent for the child rights of the Protector of Citizens, it was determined that the educational system does not have technical possibilities and corresponding financial and human resources to provide printing and packing of tests within the institutions of the educational system, said the Protector of Citizens Zoran Pašalić, adding that the Law on Fundamentals of the Educational System established the Exam Center within the Institute for the Assessment of the Education Quality, with competences corresponding also to the need of printing, packing and distribution of tests. Since the employees of the institutions of educational system are subjected to far more strict inspections and measures than those at private employers, the use of competence and resources of the Institute and Exam center provides the retention of the control over the complete organization of the final exam and state test and responsibilities for that within the educational system and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, said Pašalić.

The Protector of Citizens issued a recommendation to the Ministry to take measures in order to keep the entire procedure of organization and implementation of the final and entrance exam and state test in the domain of the control and responsibility of the Ministry and educational bodies, institutions and organizations. Furthermore, it was recommended that the budged funds necessary for the provision of material, technical and other conditions be planned so that the activities in the organization of the final exam, which have been trusted to external partners so far, are implemented from now on within the Institute for the assessment of education quality and Exam Center, it is said in the recommendations of the Protector of Citizens.

Female refugees and migrants, children in movement, refugees and migrants with developmental delays and disabilities, as well as LGBTI refugees and migrants are in an extremely sensitive position and more frequently they are victims of various forms of violence. After the visit to the Asylum Center in Krnjača and learning about the cases of violence at this Center, the Protector of Citizens, upon his own initiative initiated the proceedings toward the City Center for Social Work Belgrade and the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs as well as against the Commissariat for Refugees and Migrations (CRM) -Center for Asylum Krnjača and the Ministry of Interior asking for information on each individual case of violence against women and children staying at the Asylum Center Krnjača.

Based on the statements of controlled bodies and documentation submitted by the bodies to the Protector of Citizens, this body confirmed that there is no complete exchange of information and coordination in cases of violence between different authorities, so the exchange of information frequently boils down to sending information on the suspicion to violence, without the reception of feedback about what was done about it. Furthermore, CRM and asylum center representatives do not participate at the conferences of cases referring to violence against women and violence, abuse and negligence of children or at the meetings of groups for coordination and cooperation or at accredited trainings. Also, it was confirmed that there is no adequate number of female interpreters for Urdu and Pashtu languages. In order to remove the identified shortcomings, the Protector of Citizens issued the Opinion to the Commissariat for refugees, migrations, to the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, to the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Finance.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

With a view to improving the arrangements provided for in the Draft Law on Gender Equality, the Protector of Citizens believes certain provisions should be further reviewed and clarified by more accurate wording. These include the provisions pertaining to the duties of local self-governments concerning the formation of gender quality bodies or appointment of a gender equality officer, the duty to provide free legal assistance to victims of domestic violence and consistent use of the term “gender equality” throughout the text.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The Protector of Citizens has issued an Opinion to the Ministry of Interior in connection with the announced staff cuts at that Ministry. Nebojša Stefanović, Minister of Interior, announced in December 2015 that between 1300 and 1400 employees “who solicited bribes and engaged in corruption” would be dismissed by the end of the year.

The Opinion states it was found from the complaints received and the media coverage of the events that the relevant job classification rulebook had recently been amended to provide for “risk analysis” posts that had hitherto not existed and for which the complainants alleged there was no real need. It was also found that many employees had been transferred to those “risk analysis” posts in late 2015; however, the job classification rulebook was slated for an amendment in early 2016 which would see those posts dropped as a cost-cutting measure.

“If there are indeed 1400 ‘criminalised’ police officers currently on the force, addressing this matter by reorganisation and staff cuts is incompatible with the rule of law (especially if the measures involved are fictitious). Instead, this issue should and must be tackled exclusively by initiating relevant investigations, meting out punishment and dismissing those found guilty”, reads the Opinion of the Protector of Citizens.

Monday, 18 January 2016

The Bill on Police purports to regulate internal affairs, organisation and powers of the Ministry of Interior, as well as other matters of relevance for the operation of the Ministry of Interior, although this goes substantially beyond the scope of police work and organisation and powers of the Police.

The effects of this discrepancy between the title of the Bill on Police and its subject matter is particularly evident in the chapter which pertains to internal and external control of police operations; thus, the Bill on Police apparently provides for the internal and external control of the Ministry of Interior. The arrangements proposed in the Bill on Police still fall short of introducing clearly defined mechanisms for democratic oversight of police work.

The authorities that are specifically designated in the Bill as external control bodies – and are even listed before the independent public authorities in charge of oversight and other authorised public authorities and bodies – are in fact not vested with any oversight powers under the Constitution. The assemblies of territorial autonomy and local self-government units, including city councils, would thus be entrusted with an oversight role, while the Protector of Citizens, as a constitutionally independent institution and the only institution explicitly authorised to oversee both the legality and the regularity of work of public authorities, is not specifically named as a body in charge of external control.

The text of the Bill will have to be improved as it pertains to rights of the child, especially with regard to child victims of criminal offences and child victims of violence, abuse and neglect, and as it pertains to security clearance procedures, special cases of termination of employment, polygraph interrogations, disciplinary liability for information “leaks” during ongoing investigations and public disclosure of information which violates citizens’ rights.

Draft Law on Amendments to the Law on Communal Police disproportionately and unnecessarily strengthens the powers of communal police officers to limit the freedoms and rights of citizens. Such changes are not necessary for the effective maintenance of public order, and past communal police experiences suggest the need for a more restrictive, not broader access to powers. The Opinion of the Ombudsman sent to the National Assembly states, inter alia, that the Draft Law also lowered the criterion for employment in communal police, and limited the number of municipal police officers depending on the population of the municipality or city for no valid reason.

Opinion with Recommendation to the Ministry of Education and Science to to create durable, sustainable and systemic conditions for the inclusion of Roma in the education system

Opinion Following the Complaint Regarding the Work of the High Judicial Council

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