The Protector of Citizens and the Serbian Government have turned a deaf ear BCHR’s attempts to draw alert them to the alarming claims by BIRN published in June 2020 – that the number of COVID-19 deaths and infections in Serbia was much higher than the Crisis Headquarters had officially been publishing.
Back in late May, the BCHR requested of the Serbian Government to provide it with access to the minutes of the COVID-19 Crisis Headquarters sessions, the decision on the establishment of the Crisis Headquarters and information on all members of this body and their functions. It sent two follow-up requests in June 2020. On 22 June 2020, the BCHR filed an initiative with the Protector of Citizens to launch a review of the work of the Ministry of Health, specifically, the management of the COVID-19 Information System, emphasising, in particular, that any concealment of data on the health of Serbia’s population could result in irreparable and incalculable harm.
Neither the Serbian Government nor the Protector of Citizens have responded to BCHR’s requests for over three months now.
On 30 September 2020, the media quoted the Protector of Citizens, Mr. Zoran Pašalić, as saying that he was looking into whether there were “grounds to launch a review of the relevant institutions”. It is absolutely unclear what exactly he is waiting for, i.e. what he considers “grounds to launch a review” – one would have thought that the data published by BIRN and the public anxiety they caused, the relevant authorities’ decision to stop informing the population on COVID-19 deaths and infections by city and region, the recent statements by Crisis Headquarters member Dr. Predrag Kon, the dissatisfaction of doctors within the United against COVID protest et al would suffice. Unfortunately, this is not the first time the public has had to wait for the reaction of the Protector of Citizens to human rights violations for months. If, indeed, it ever came.