Due to a technical mistake, on March 30 the draft version of the Defender’s Annual Report was sent to the National Assembly, where the Defender’s important observations were omitted from the part on Electoral Rights.
It should be underlined that the part on Electoral Rights encompasses detailed analysis about electoral processes during 2017, bribes, exerted pressure on administrative resource and its misuse, including public servants (staff of the schools), as well as intimidating voters to elect a specific party. It is recorded in the Report, that these activities had a negative impact in terms of public confidence towards electoral procedures, as well as raised concerns on free expression of the will of electors.
Besides, the Defender’s Office recorded cases of hindrance of the professional work of journalists. In this connection, it should be particularly noted that journalists perform irreplaceable public function in the framework of an important event such as parliamentary elections, which form the highest representative body of the country. Thus, the work of journalists should be particularly protected to guarantee the full information on electoral processes, including on violations and other illegal activities.
The Defender’s observations show that journalists have fair perception that inadequacy of the accountability mechanism creates impression of impunity without having any effect on preventing such illegalities in future. This is problematic especially from the perspective of electoral processes, since protection of journalists’ professional activities is an important component of public confidence.
An atmosphere should be created in the country so that journalists feel that they are protected by the state from any violations against their professional activity.
The final version of the Annual Report is available on the website. It encompasses detailed analyses on above named and other issues.