Discrimination

Monday, 4 May 2015

Open Letter to MPs Concerning the Election of Commissioner for Protection of Equality

Dear Members of Parliament,

Civil society organisations and networks, signatories to this letter, request that the procedure of establishing the proposal of candidates for the position of Commissioner for Protection of Equality be repeated. We express our deep dissatisfaction with the way of establishing the proposal of candidate for the position of the Commissioner for Protection of Equality, who is in charge of the implementation of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination. Therefore, we request that you do not adopt the proposal submitted to you by the Committee for Constitutional Issues and Legislation that, to find - in collaboration with the civil society - the candidates who meet the requirements stipulated by the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination and to make their biographies publicly available.

Following the media coverage, it seems that not only the civil society and the public, but also the members of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Issues and Legislation, were placed before a fait accompli when the proposal of candidate was established:

  • without previous consultation with civil society organisations that over 20 years have been working on establishing the mechanisms for human rights protection and elimination of discrimination;
  • in violation of the Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly of RS (agenda or written materials were not submitted three days before the meeting of the Committee, as required by the Rules of Procedure), and
  • the proposed candidate does not fulfil the requirements prescribed under the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination.

Although the candidate that was proposed by the Committee on Constitutional Issues and Legislation, Brankica Janković, undoubtedly has significant qualifications, we believe that they are not essential for the field of activity of the Commissioner for Protection of Equality and cannot be described as "legal experience in the field of human rights". One of the main requirements is a 10-year experience of working on legal issues in the field of human rights. The candidate’s CV reveals that the proposed candidate has never dealt with their field of protection against discrimination, either through direct assistance and support to persons who have suffered discrimination or through scientific and educational activity. Furthermore, the proposed candidate is a high official of a political party, which brings into question her independence and neutrality.

Civil society organisations and networks propose and support the candidacy of Slavoljupka Pavlović for the position of the Commissioner for Protection of Equality, who fully meets all the criteria set forth by the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination since she has a ten-year experience in the field of human rights, acquired through direct work and systematic advocacy for the rights of marginalised social groups. As a non-partisan personality committed to protect human rights, she will guarantee conscientious and professional discharge of this office. Her biography has been distributed to all parliamentary groups.

We urge the Members of Parliament, all political groups, to contribute to the credibility of the institution of Commissioner for Protection of Equality by accepting this initiative, and to propose and select the best candidate in accordance with clearly defined standards and criteria for selection.

Download letter here.

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