Although formed as an advisory body to the Serbian government, the Anti-Corruption Council has never been liked by any government because of the criticism and revelations made about cases of corruption.
Compared to its predecessors, however, it is now clear that the government intends to close this body, because, since 2012, the government has not appointed a single member of the Council.
According to a decision of the Serbian government, the Council was set up in 2001 on the recommendation of the EU and it should have a total of 13 members. However, the Council has not had this many members since 2012. And the reason is simple: for 9 years the government never appointed any new members following the Council’s proposal. Now, the body has a total of 6 members, 2 of whom were appointed by Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, without prior consultation with the Council.
If the relevant law is followed to the letter, which is a rare practice for the current government, the members of this body should be appointed by the government, but only the ones the Council proposes, which has not happened since 2012. The Vice-President of the Anti-Corruption Council, Miroslav Milićević, explains that the last 2 members of the Council were appointed in 2017, on the proposal of the Ministry of Justice, and not on the proposal of Council members, which is a violation of the relevant law.
In February 2021, the government was informed by Ana Brnabić’s chief of staff, Miloš Popović, that of the 5 proposed candidates, who included a Faculty of Philosophy professor, Ognjen Radonjić, 3 were not acceptable because they were critical of the government. Because of this, the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality declared the behaviour of the head of the PM’s cabinet to be discriminatory.
It is interesting that, to date, the candidates for whom the Council had given the green light have still not been appointed, even though seven months have passed since then. “On several occasions, the Council has tried to get in touch with the PM’s office, but unfortunately without success,” Milicevic explains.
Asked whether this means that the government is practically closing down the Council, Milicevic said: “Since its establishment to date, the Council has performed and will perform its function for the benefit of the people of Serbia. Whether the Council will be closed or not is a question for the government, not for the Council. The recommendations of the European Commission and the Action Plan for Chapter 23 stipulate that the Council should continue to carry out its assigned activities.”
This means that the government, if it wants to stay on the European track, should not dissolve this body, even though it seems to be doing everything to hinder its work. Reports on attempts at systemic corruption, along with conclusions and recommendations, are routinely sent to the government but no one knows if they are taken into account.
This post is also available in: Italiano