MANS has urged the Special State Prosecutor for Organized Crime and Corruption, Milivoje Katnic, to publicly announce the results of his work during the election day, bearing in mind commission of a series of criminal offenses against electoral rights that were reported on the given day.
We remind that on the election day MANS filed 117 complaints most of which related to the criminal offenses concerning violation of electoral rights, such as suspicion of buying ID cards, illegal registration of voters at polling stations, different types of pressure and intimidation of voters, as well as vote-buying disguised as payment of travel expenses. The rest of the complaints related to the violation of the secrecy of voting and prevention of voting, as well as incorrect electoral rolls, all of which are offenses under the Criminal Code of Montenegro.
MANS was filing these complaints during the whole election day and immediately after establishing the facts submitted evidence to the Special Prosecutor’s Office, because it estimated that the efficiency of their processing depended largely on time, and that the information submitted to the Prosecutor’s Office in time should be helpful in prosecuting all those who committed criminal offences on the election day.
Therefore, it is unusual that the Special Prosecutor’s Office has kept silence for two days after the elections on the measures taken in relation to the submitted complaints, because criminal offenses are such that they should have been urgently processed in order to prevent significant damage to the public interest. Even more so, because the Special Prosecutor’s Office announced that on the eve of elections there would be a special service on duty in all towns, not only for submitting citizens’ report, but also to act preventively in order to ensure smooth electoral process.
MANS urges the Special Prosecutor to inform the public as soon as possible on the number of people apprehended on suspicion of buying ID cards, their identity and a political party on behalf of which they committed the crimes. MANS also expects that the prosecutor disclose how many people were prosecuted for unlawful voters’ enumeration, as well as harassment and pressure on the citizens during the election day. Bearing in mind that the Prosecution has announced exception from the previous practice of prosecutors when it comes to the election day, and that emergency services were organized, MANS expects that the Special Prosecutor will acknowledge to which extent the prosecutors prevented criminal offences and what measures were taken on that occasion.
It is particularly important that the prosecutors investigate the nature of the motives and actions that preceded the decision of the Agency for Electronic Communications to suspend communications services Viber and WhatsApp at the state level, which represented an unprecedented mass violation of rights of Montenegrin citizens to freedom of expression and communication. All the more so because citizens most frequently used those services to quickly and safely report offenses that occurred on the election day, which leads to the suspicion that it was the main motive for their suspension.
Finally, MANS points out that the disclosure of this information is of the indisputable public interest and that only effective and impartial prosecution contributes to increasing confidence in the electoral process, and that silence and ignoring the public’s right to know leaves room for doubt that it is not able to cope with the problem of political corruption in Montenegro.
Timely and full prosecution of criminal offenses committed against electoral rights is the ultimate test for the prosecution, which should show whether it is really independent in its work or acts only when there is a clear political instruction of the ruling elite.