STRASBOURG – We are deeply concerned about the information that financial investigations were launched by the Serbian Administration for the Prevention of Money Laundering against over 50 prominent activists, CSOs and investigative media, including the 2019 PACE Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prizewinner “Youth Initiative for Human Rights“, said Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) monitoring co-rapporteurs for Serbia Ian Liddell-Grainger and Piero Fassino, stated in a press release.
“A lively democracy needs a vibrant civil society and independent media which can operate in a safe environment. Non-governmental organisations and investigative media contribute to ensure a sound scrutiny of public institutions leading to the necessary checks and balances in a democratic society,” they said.
PACE monitoring co-rapporteurs added that while the transparency of all organisations and institutions is a legitimate and necessary requirement, any investigation should be duly substantiated, based on clear and legal criteria.
“We call on the Serbian authorities to refrain from any move that could amount to an act of intimidation or lead to the unfounded criminalisation of these organisations”, the co-rapporteurs concluded.