New SEC management to initiate opening of the session to the public

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) calls on the new President of the State Election Commission (SEC) to initiate within its competencies, in accordance with the goal of strengthening the transparency of the work of that body, the opening of SEC’s sessions for the public and the media. The CCE has been pointing out for a long time the need for the interested public to be acquainted with the content of the sessions, about which it has so far been able to be informed only through brief minutes published on the website of that institution.

The fact that SEC’s members, as stated in OSCE/ODIHR mission reports, are still not subject to a code of conduct that would establish a higher degree of their impartiality, justifies the public interest in becoming more familiar with their work. In such a manner, the personal level of responsibility of each of the members is raised, whose roles in making numerous controversial decisions that coloured the work of that body lately, have remained in the shadows of collective decision-making.

Unfortunately, the political parties did not use the opportunity to appoint more responsible representatives when constituting the new convocation of the SEC, instead, to those positions were most often appointed persons who performed that function in the previous convocation. We would like to remind you that the CCE has filed several criminal charges due to certain decisions of that body from the previous convocation, some of which are still in the process at the competent Prosecutor’s office.

Also, last year the State Audit Institution (SAI) audited the financial operations of the SEC for 2020, at the initiative of the CCE. On that occasion, numerous irregularities were identified in the work of the SEC, which largely corresponded to what the CCE had previously pointed out.

The CCE welcomed the recent decision of the SEC to abolish attendance fees, assessing that it was a good start for the new management to implement the necessary reforms and move away from illegal practices. Therefore, we assess that the first next step should be to create formal legal and technical preconditions for opening the sessions to the public.

The SEC would also have to establish a better system of communication with citizens and the civic sector by using digital services and social media, and by strengthening communication with the media, which would result in the exchange of various observations and ultimately would contribute to better work of the institution.

Damir Suljević, Programme associate