In order to claim something, one must know a little bit, and the claims of few citizens' associations about the threatened status of the Institution of the Protector of Citizens indicate an unprofessional interpretation of the procedure of an international network for human rights protection and mislead the public, said Mr. Zoran Pašalić, the Protector of Citizens.
It happens again that several marginal associations of citizens, which declare themselves as safeguarding human rights, interpret in an unprofessional and malicious manner the events related to the Protector of Citizens of the Republic of Serbia. Engaging with human rights does not allow for bias, one-sidedness and arbitrariness, but demands commitment, expertise and objectivity.
The fact that none of these citizens' associations representatives has read the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, which specifies that only the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia can control the work of the Protector of Citizens, is yet another indicator of incompetence and ignorance.
A further question is how someone who has neither knowledge nor experience about the functioning of networks of national institutions for human rights protection can be trustworthy to interpret the actions of international bodies in which only national institutions may be members. Such malicious allegations serve solely to mislead the public.
The credibility of these citizens' associations to inform the public has also been challenged, considering that they are talking about a procedure about which they have no knowledge, because as citizens' associations they are not subject to any verification of their work.
The surge in citizens’ addresses in 2020 shows the exceptional trust that the citizens of Serbia have in this Institution, which was confirmed by the survey from December last year, done in cooperation with the United Nations Human Rights Team in Serbia. Also, according to that research, the trust of citizens in the Protector of Citizens (26 percent) is three times higher than in citizens' associations, colloquially called non-government organizations (8 percent).
In the GANHRI, the Institution of the Protector of Citizens of the Republic of Serbia is currently accredited with the highest "A" status, and the re-accreditation of the "A" status, conducted every five years for all "A" status members of the Alliance, has been deferred to October 2021.
The Protector of Citizens of the Republic of Serbia is a member of 12 other international networks that bring together national Ombudspersons from almost all countries of the world. It is also the initiator and a member of the informal Network of the National Ombudspersons from the Balkan Region.
The statuses "A", "B" and "C" granted by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), being one among the networks of national human rights institutions, indicate the level of compliance of national institutions with the Paris Principles.
Serbia holds the "A" status, as most European countries do. Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Slovakia and Sweden hold "B" status, while Romania and Switzerland hold "C" status.