According to Rodoljub Sabic, a lawyer and Serbia’s first commissioner for information of public importance, the availability of information on the government and Crisis Headquarters’ efforts to suppress the COVID-19 epidemic is worryingly and unacceptably low, and their current attitude is leading to more numerous and more serious problems.
“The government’s actions [thus far] and the way its representatives are reacting to the media and public’s completely legitimate requests for access to information, especially when it concerns the COVID-19 epidemic, not only are clashing with the authorities’ constitutional obligations toward the public, but they are even diametrically opposed to the publically given promises of the government itself,” Sabic told BETA on July 1.
He believes that by ignoring their duties and not keeping their promises the authorities have naturally given rise to “the public’s discontent while at the same time fueling the already existing doubts about the veracity of even the insufficient information the government has made available.”
According to Sabic, the public is also denied the data about the acquisition of medical supplies, primarily the ventilators and masks. He recalled that “at the beginning of the crisis, the journalists and the Transparency Serbia NGO have pointed to the government’s responsibility to provide the public with at least the basic information about these acquisition and expenses,” but that they were faced with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Branbic’s “nervous reaction, terse dismissals and accusations.”