The U.S. authorities have expressed concern because of the investigation announced by the Directorate of the Ministry of Finance, which will probe into banking transactions carried out by the media, non-governmental organizations and associations of citizens of Serbia under the pretext of preventing money laundering.
“The U.S. is concerned about what appears to be a selective investigation of a number of civil society and media organizations in Serbia dealing with investigative journalism,” said the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade
The Money Laundering Directorate’s list includes a number of leading organisations and individuals, many of whom work to promote democracy, strengthen the rule of law and help Serbia progress in the EU accession process, said the Embassy, recalling that civil society organisations have legitimate roles and significant responsibilities in democratic societies – including Serbia – which also apply to the media and journalists’ associations.
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“We call on the Serbian government to fulfil its constitutional and international obligation to protect the fundamental freedoms of expression, association and assembly and to avoid selective application of the law in order to put pressure on independent organisations”, continued the Embassy.
The Embassy’s statement added that the United States remained ready to assist Serbia on its path towards EU membership.
“However, the impression that official Belgrade wants to suppress civil society or the freedom of the media will damage Serbia’s reputation and make it more difficult to make progress towards this goal of great value,” the statement concluded.
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