On the occasion of inaccurate information and insult that Aleksandar Martinović, head of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) parliamentary group stated yesterday in the National Assembly, the news desks of CINS, BIRN, Istinomer, N1 TV, Vreme weekly, and NGOs Transparency Serbia and Crta demand that the abuse of institutions for the showdown with independent media and the civil society organizations stops.
During the debate on the Commissioner for Information of Public Interest report, Martinovic said on Wednesday that the requests for access to information of public importance which the organisations were sending to the state institutions had “tendentious questions aimed at bringing down the security system of the Republic of Serbia.”
“Serbia’s citizens should know that we primarily talk about those who mostly demanded, and I say that again, security-sensitive information, like CINS, KRIK, BIRN, BIRODI, Nataša Kandić, Nemanja Nenadić and so on.
An SRS deputy Vjerica Radeta joined Martinovic in insults and attacks, adding that our organisations were known for “anti-Serb activities.”
All the requests that our media and organisations were sending to the state institutions in 2018 as well as in early years were sent in line with the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance and were in the public interest.
The citizens have the right to know that some officials forged their doctorates, that they were illegally employed in schools, do they tell the truth during public addresses, and to know about other wrongdoings and maybe the violations of laws.
Accusing the journalists and the civil society organisations of damaging the interests of our country by requesting information are, among other things, the continuation of the pressure the independent and professional media are exposed to.
At the time when Serbia is working to limit the access to information by changing the law and appointing a new Commissioner for Information of Public Importance, we recall the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights which guarantees that right. Serbia’s Constitution also stipulates that every citizen “has the right to access information possessed by state institutions and organisations which are trusted with public jurisdiction by the law.”
We call on Aleksandar Martinović and the deputies who supported him to explain in what way the publication of such information would affect Serbia’s security, while we call on the Government and Parliament not to use the institutions for a showdown with independent media and organisations.
This statement is signed by:
Center for Investigative Journalism in Serbia – CINS
Centre for Investigating, transparency and responsibility – CRTA
Balkan Investigative Network – BIRN