Centre for Civic Education (CCE) indicates that the election of Ivan Medojevic, director of the Agency for Personal Data Protection and Free Access to Information (AZLP), was not conducted in accordance with the Personal Data Protection Law, which clearly prescribes the requirements for appointment to this position and urges the Council of the Agency for Personal Data Protection and Free Access to Information to annul this election and to launch a new competition.
Personal Data Protection Law, in article 53 and 54, prescribes requirements and restrictions for the appointment of members of the Council of the Agency. Amongst the restrictions, Article 54 clearly prescribes that ‘person appointed by the Government of Montenegro’ may not be appointed as president and member of the Council of the Agency.
At its 142nd session, held on 7 November 2019, the Government of Montenegro appointed Ivan Medojevic to the position of acting Director General of the Directorate for Inspection Affairs and Licensing at the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism, and it also informed the public in the summary of the content of the session through a press release from the very same session. Designating Medojevic to a high position within the executive branch by the Government of Montenegro, regardless of its acting position, undoubtedly represents his appointment. Hence, with his election for the director of the Agency for Personal Data Protection and Free Access to Information, paragraph 3 of Article 54 of the Personal Data Protection Law was violated. Furthermore, the provision of Article 49 paragraph 2 of the same Law prescribes that the Agency is autonomous and independent in the performance of its tasks, and the prerequisite for the achievement of the autonomy and independence is the appointment of leading persons of the of the Agency for Personal Data Protection and Free Access to Information who are undoubtedly independent of the executive branch. The fact is that Medojevic, as a member of the Cabinet of this Ministry, applied for the position of the director of the Agency for Personal Data Protection and Free Access to Information, and that he was in that position on the day when the Council of the Agency for Personal Data Protection and Free Access to Information decided by majority to support his candidacy on 3 April 2020. Therefore, it is evident that Medojevic was not independent of the executive branch at the moment of the election and that his election was contrary to the provision of Article 54 paragraph 3 of the Personal Data Protection Law.
It should also be noted that Medojevic, at the time of change from the position of State Prosecutor to the position of Director of the Directorate at the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism, submitted two reports to the Agency for Prevention of Corruption – one regarding the termination of the function of State Prosecutor and the other regarding the appointment to the function at the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism. This clearly implies that Medojevic is aware that he was an official of the Government of Montenegro at the time of his election as the Director of the Agency for Personal Data Protection and Free Access to Information. Also, this is supported by the provision of Article 61, paragraph 5 of the Law on Civil Servants and State Employees, which prescribes that during the performance of his/her duties, the acting person shall have the powers, rights, obligations and responsibilities of the head of the respective body or service within public administration, or the person who performs tasks of higher managerial staff.
In the statement from the AZLP Council meeting, held on 3 April 2020, inter alia, it is stated: ‘Considering the importance of the future work of the Agency for Personal Data Protection and Free Access to Information, as well as the need for staff changes in this institution, and taking into account the work of State Prosecutor Ivan Medojevic so far, the Council assessed that Mr. Medojevic could successfully respond to all the obligations in front of this significant institution within the coming period.’ It is unclear whether the members of the Council deliberately ignored the fact that Medojevic did not apply for this position from the State Prosecutor Office but from the function of the acting Director General of the Directorate for Inspection Affairs and Licensing at the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism, or this fact, although widely available to the public, was not familiar to them.
Finally, when submitting the documentation, Medojevic himself had to submit a statement, under criminal and material liability, that there are no impediments for his appointment established by the Law. Therefore, we ask the members of the Council whether Medojevic submitted such a statement and whether there is information on his appointment by the Government in his documentation.
Considering all of the above, and particularly the already seriously shaken credibility of the Agency for Personal Data Protection and Free Access to Information, we urge the Council to immediately annul election of Medojevic, to launch a new competition and to apply the Law consistently and not to violate the Law when the public focus is on the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Tamara Milas, Human Rights Programme Coordinator