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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Good Governance is a Precondition for the Respect for Human Rights

The failure to include the public in the decision-making process can result in the unlawfulness or unconstitutionality of adopted acts, which will always be the case if a public hearing has not been held despite the prescribed obligation to do so. Such a standpoint was taken by the Constitutional Court in deciding on the initiatives for assessing the constitutionality and legality of general acts. The Constitutional Court assessed that the disputed decisions of the administrative authorities in Ćuprija, Mionica and Kraljevo, which determined fees for environmental protection, were not in accordance with the Law on Local Self-Government Financing, since the administrative authorities had failed to hold a public hearing at the time of adopting the disputed decisions, which was prescribed as a mandatory phase in the procedure of adopting such type of acts.

It should be kept in mind that Article 51 of the Constitution prescribes that everyone has the right to be informed truthfully, fully and timely about issues of public importance and that the media have the obligation to respect this right and that everyone has the right to access information that is in the possession of state authorities. The non-transparent decision-making process and the failure to include citizens and civil society organisations may result in the unconstitutionality of adopted acts, which is confirmed by the practice of the Constitutional Court. With respect to the decisions of the administrative authorities in Ćuprija and Mionica, the Constitutional Court found that "failing to hold a public hearing in adopting (...) decisions violated the constitutional right to be informed under Article 51, paragraph 1 of the Constitution". 

In addition, it is important to point out also to the inappropriate decision of the Kraljevo City Assembly on compensating the costs of in vitro fertilisation, which excluded the right to compensation for marginalised groups. This decision unjustifiably excluded the internally displaced persons with the registered temporary residence in Kraljevo since 1999, since they were not able to fulfil the requirement regarding the registration of permanent residence. There were no consultations with CSOs or citizens before making this decision. After Praxis lodged a complaint with the Commissioner for Protection of Equality, the administrative authority changed the disputed decision, thus demonstrating the willingness to ensure the exercise of rights to all citizens under equal conditions. The civil society plays an important role in eliminating such deficiencies. However, there is no doubt that the actions of administrative authorities would be more efficient if CSOs and citizens were already involved in the process of drafting acts, in order to prevent the adoption of inappropriate or discriminatory decisions.

Public participation in policy making is one of the key elements of good governance, and good governance is a precondition for creating a framework for full respect for human rights. Transparency in the actions of administrative authorities and the participation of civil society organisations and citizens in the decision-making process is one of the focuses of the project Contributing to Public Administration Reform in Kraljevo implemented by Praxis.

Media coverage: RTV KV

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