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Serbia: criticism and concern over investigations into NGOs

US Embassy, AI, Freedom House, 'don't put pressure on media'

31 July, 12:50
(ANSA) - BELGRADE, JULY 30 - In Serbia, the opposition media, but also the US Embassy, ;;criticized the decision of the Ministry of Finance, through a special commission, to launch investigations into control and prevention of money laundering involving non-governmental organizations, civic and human rights associations, activists and investigative media. They expressed concern that, under the pretext of preventing money laundering, the authorities would have access to information about the banking transactions of opposition media, NGOs, and other independent organizations, thus exercising control and pressure.In a statement, the US Embassy in Belgrade said it was worried "about something that appears to be rather a selective investigation into certain civil society and media organizations in Serbia active in investigative journalism." Many of these organizations and media, added the US Embassy, work to promote democracy, strengthen the rule of law, and help Serbia progress in the integration process in the EU. "We ask the Serbian government to fulfill its constitutional and international obligation andinternational to protect fundamental freedoms of expression, association, and assembly."Amnesty International and Freedom House were critical of the Serbian government. Both associations underline that the investigations for the prevention of money laundering concern organizations and journalists who have conducted surveys on corruption in the Serbian government's entourages, criticizing Belgrade's policy in the field of democracy and human rights. According to the Belgrade-based opposition newspaper Danas, which the government and President Aleksandar Vucic harshly criticized, the Finance Minister's decision would be a 'revenge' of Minister Sinisa Mali against journalists and organizations that have long campaigned against him, accusing the minister of plagiarism for his PhD thesis. (ANSA)
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