Sunday, May 19, 2024

|MEDEL|

Statement of MEDEL about the freedom of association and speech in Serbia

MEDEL calls on the judicial authorities in Serbia, primarily the High Prosecutorial Council and the Prosecutor General’s Office, to take measures in order to protect freedom of speech and association and to prevent actions aimed at dissuading those who openly express critical positions on the judicial system in Serbia.

In 2018, having in mind the situation in Serbia, MEDEL already expressed its concerns about the trend towards the establishment of professional organisations of judges and prosecutors whose actions are mainly aimed at confirming and justifying stances, statements, and opinions of governmental authorities (GONGOs).

MEDEL, therefore, emphasised the risk implied in the activities of GONGOs, as these do not contribute to the public debate on the role of the judiciary, the status of judges and prosecutors and the protection of human rights, but to give a distorted representation of reality and of the role of the different actors involved in the democratic process.

Six years after MEDEL warned against the risks deriving from the existence and action of GONGOs in certain countries, it seems that the worst-case scenario is coming true.

The Prosecutors association of Serbia and its members are indeed today the target of an intense discrediting action carried out, not only by GONGO judicial associations and their leadership but through their professional function as head of prosecutors office, by numerous public, media and social media statements, pleas for disciplinary actions and intervention by the Ethics Board of the High Prosecutorial Council, trying to dissuade those who openly take critical positions on the judicial system in Serbia from exercising their freedom of expression and association.

The smear campaign conducted against all those who express a critical view of the judicial system in Serbia is getting worse. Without the support of pro-government media and public resources (websites of judicial institutions, PR offices, etc.) such an intense and long-term discrediting campaign would not be conceivable.

With this in mind, MEDEL calls on judicial authorities in Serbia, primarily the High Prosecutorial Council and the Prosecutor General, to take the appropriate steps in order to prevent these conducts and to protect the freedom of association and speech of prosecutors as well as the very image of the judiciary from the distorting effects that the systematic action of GONGOs has on democratic debate.

19.3.24

 

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