Civil Society Response to Confidentiality Requests by the Ad-Hoc Commission for the Selection of Parts of the Media Complaint Board
Prishtina, 27 July 2021 – The ad-hoc committee of the Assembly of Kosovo for the selection of the member of the Media Complaints Board has requested a meeting yesterday from the civil society representatives, who are following the process of selecting a member of the Board, to sign the Confidentiality Agreement (see appendix 1)
We, the civil society organizations and the activists written below, strongly oppose the initiative of the deputies through which it is attempted to silence the civil societies and the activists. The restrictions set forth in this Confidentiality Agreement are illegal, severely infringe on the public’s right to information, and impede the work of civil society.
The Confidentiality Agreement stipulates, inter alia, that civil society representatives may not openly discuss or publish materials related to candidates as well as the progress of the process during the process (and contains significant restrictions that would apply once the process is completed).
Although we believe that we need to maintain the integration of the process, the Confidentiality Agreement is illegal. Law no. 04 / L-44 on the Independent Media Commission stipulates that “[a] members of the Appeals Board shall be appointed by the Assembly of Kosovo on the basis of open and transparent procedures” (Article 38 (1)). This provision prevents the ad hoc Commission’s harmful tendencies for member selection procedures to be closed through confidentiality agreements. The conditionality of the participation of civil society representatives in the selection process with the signing of this agreement violates the legal requirement that the procedure be open and transparent, preventing civil society representatives from expressing themselves freely regarding eventual findings.
Furthermore, the mission of civil society organizations and activists is to monitor the work of public authorities, to inform the public about monitoring findings, and hold politicians and people in power accountable for their actions. By forcing organizations and activists to sign such illegal agreements, the Assembly will disable the work of organizations and deprive the public of the right to be informed.
As such, this requirement prevents civil society organizations from performing one of the basic functions of their mission, which is to monitor the work of public institutions and to keep the public informed.
The Assembly of Kosovo is in the process of selecting a member of the Media Complaints Board of the Independent Media Commission (IMC). The selection will be made by the Ad-Hoc commission of the Assembly of Kosovo for the selection of the member of the Media Complaints Board composed of: Mërgim Lushtaku and Floretë Zejnullahu (Democratic Party of Kosovo) and the members Valon Ramadani, Doarsa Kica Xhelili, Njazi Isaku, Fitim Haziri and Besim Muzaqi (Lëvizja Vetëvendosje), Agim Veliu (Democratic League of Kosovo), Time Kadriaj (Alliance for the Future of Kosovo), Igor Simic (Serbian List) and Samra Iljazi (Group Multiethnic). The illegal agreement was proposed and sent for signature by email to several organizations after the first meeting of the ad-hoc commission held on July 26, 2021. The agreement was proposed by the chairman of ad-hoc commission Mërgim Lushtaku and was not opposed by any of the other members of the Ad-Hoc Committee present.
We request that the above-mentioned deputies of the ad hoc Committee of the Assembly of Kosovo for the selection of a member of the Media Complaints Board withdraw from this initiative and allow civil society organizations and activists to monitor freely.
Signatory organizations and activists:
- Ardita Metaj Dika
- Center for Education and Training Prizren
- Flutura Kusari
- Kosovar Foundation for Civil Society
- Instituti EPIK
- Instituti I Kosoves per Drejtesi
- Klubi Albin Prishtina
- Lëvizja FOL
- OJQ “VISION 02”
- Rrjeti i OJQ-ve, Demokracia Fillon Këtu (DFK)
- YIHR KS
Republika e Kosovës – Republika Kosovo-Republic of Kosovo
Kuvendi – Skupština – Assembly
Ad-Hoc commission for the selection of members of the Media Complaints Board
This Confidentiality Agreement is an audible document that sets out the commitment of each individual to behave with integrity in their involvement in the appointment process.
As an independent observer, a representative of civil society, I vow to:
Maintain the confidentiality of the candidate by:
- Do not discuss the applicant or candidate’s performance with anyone outside the Commission or the designated team.
- Do not share (other than those directly involved in the selection process) information received about candidates during any part of the nomination process.
Maintain the confidentiality and integrity of the candidate by:
- Do not share (forward) any evaluation material received as part of the appointment process.
- Discuss any views or concerns regarding the appointment process with the Chair of the Committee in the first place.
- Do not publish any report until the appointment process is fully concluded (excluding official reports required as part of the appointment process itself) unless expressly authorized to do so, by the Chair of the Committee.
- Do not provide comments or interviews to the press or media until the process is complete and the results are officially published, unless expressly authorized to do so by the Chair of the Commission – if he or she does so after the process is complete, then do so. without mentioning names or talking about the performance of individual applicants/candidates, and informing the Chair of the Commission who has contacted the press.
- Disclosure of any conflicts of interest that are relevant to the appointment process.
- Disclose any conflict of interest with any applicant or candidate within the appointment process.
Raised with the Chair of the Committee, any concerns about the integrity in the conduct and performance of others during the conduct of the appointment process.
Emphasize to the Chair of the Commission, any other issues or concerns which may jeopardize the integrity of the appointment process.
Name:…………………Process: Board Members for Media Complaint