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Media Fact Checking Service

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The fight against corruption is a common interest

on 27 - 05 - 2016       
Овој напис го има и на: Macedonian
Горан Миленков. Фото: Скрин-шот од видео на ДКСК.

Goran Milenkov. Photo: Screenshot of the recording from the SCPC’s press conference  held on 6 April 2016

The media must not be dithered during their research due to the arrogant behavior of some designated person, due to the absence of cooperation or due to the refusal for providing data.

 

Author: Mirjana Najchevska, PhD. human rights expert

 

According to the Law on Prevention of Corruption, “the governing, the performing of public authorizations, official duty and position as well as the things of public interest are public and subjected to public control”. This particularly applies to the designated persons holding high function positions in the government, who have a great deal of power in their hands and at the same time immense possibility for abuse of that particular power and for covering it up.

The media’s interest about the way designated persons holding high function positions govern and their requests for appropriate official data regarding possible misuses is not just legitimate, but also mandatory in the accomplishment of their control function.

Hence, the media showed completely justified interest regarding the progress of Nikola Gruevski’s property who was a Prime Minister for nine years, and for whom there is a reasonable suspicion (the publicly played conversations) that he breached his duty for obtaining personal material benefit and who is still active on the political scene.

What cannot be justified is the attitude of the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption.

First, due to the obvious refusal of the commission to cooperate with the media:

Second, due to the indications that the Commission is trying to cover up data related to the Gruevski’s property progress (The first anti-corruption officer defended Gruevski that he is “clean”), which were followed by most elaborated analyses given on Telma TV station and the Prizma web site (within the project for independent journalism).

As a result of the Commission’s behavior, some media went a step further and asked about the need of forming a special Commission for Prevention of Corruption (Everything is special in Macedonia: Is the new Anti-corruption commission simmering?)

One of the key partners in securing the control over those who govern and perform public authorizations are the independent control bodies such as the Commission for Prevention of Corruption. The media need this commission in order to obtain relevant information and analyses, and the commission needs the media for disseminating the information, but also for pressuring the people in power in the cases when they are overly exposed right in front of the public’s eyes, or, when the commission is limited with its actions.

Having this in mind, the media asked the right question about the property upgrade of the former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and they submitted a request so the public can be introduced with the data given in the personal property statements, which should have been given and regularly updated by the ex Prime Minister according to the law.

The absence of partner relations between the media and the Commission for Prevention of Corruption is a firm indicator of the inappropriate working of the Commission and about the actual absence of this protective mechanism from the legal map of the country.

Hence, the press conference of the Commission for Prevention of Corruption, regarding the public’s interest about the property progress of the former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, must not be an end, yet it should be a beginning of the media’s interest, both for the work of the commission and for the property of Nikola Gruevski. Therefore, exactly that is the best response that will discourage future silencing attempts – they will simply know that if they “challenge” the journalists – they will respond with “digging”.

The further analyses can be led by the estimation about the truthfulness of the assertions given by the commission’s president Goran Milenkov for Truthmeter (The president of the Anti-corruption commission “has a tiff” with “his” law), and it covers the question of the public, the obligation’s length for monitoring of the former designated persons’ property and the obligation’s length for public presentation of the former designated persons’ personal property statements.

The journalists must not leave the Commission for Prevention of Corruption alone and they should seek an answer to the following questions:

  • Why there is a program that deletes the data (personal property statements) of the former designated persons from the commission’s web site?
  • Is the Commission’s work done after delivering the personal property statement to the particular designated person?

For instance, in the case of Nikola Gruevski, some media published an information that the former Prime Minister’s personal property statement is neatly delivered to the commission:

Plus, this created the impression that all this is evidence for the appropriate working of the former Prime Minister.

  • However, a question remaines unanswered – whether the personal property statement delivered by Nikola Gruevski is examined according to the Article 33 from the Law on Prevention of Corruption, which requests a detailed lists including the grounds for acquiring? What happens with the sections stating that the grounds are unknown? Or, did the Commission examine the origin or the paintings presented in the personal property statements by following the Article 30 from the Law on Prevention of Corruption, according to which “elected or designated person, an official and accountable person in a public enterprise or other legal entity that has state capital on his/hers disposal must not receive personal gifts or promise for a gift, except adequate gifts, such as books, souvenirs and similar objects with the amount determined by law”.
  • Has the Commission made an analysis based on the Article 25 from the Law on Prevention of Corruption, according to which “elected or designated person, an official and accountable person in a public enterprise, public facility or other legal entity that has state capital on his/hers disposal is obliged to preserve the state resources entrusted to him/her and to dispose them in the most economic manner…”?
  • Does the commission consider that the data protection regarding the property progress of former designated persons in the government is contrary to some of the revelations of Priebe’s commission (MK, EN), according to which: “Revelations published recently demonstrate serious incidents of political corruption at various levels and in multiple ways. Fighting this form of corruption will definitively need to become a top priority for the country. The problem of corruption would be worthy of a report all to itself; the fact that it is not addressed in detail in this report is not because the issue is not of great importance but because treating it as a side issue in a report the focus of which is elsewhere would not do justice to the problem. Corruption is the most serious problem facing the country apart from the specific issues arising from the current crisis, caused by the communications interception scandal, which is the primary focus of this report.” ?
  • What is the guarantee that the Commission for Prevention of Corruption will play its particularly vital role in the elections (one of the guarantees for fair and democratic elections) when the Commission itself is not ready neither to share the documents with the public, which according to the law should be available to everyone, and nor even to act in cases of suspicion of abuse of the functiion from designated persons in the government?

The media must not be dithered during their research due to the arrogant behavior of some designated person, due to the absence of cooperation or due to the refusal for providing data. On the contrary, such behavior should be the media’s impetus that will make them “devour” the designated person with even greater persistence, zest and perseverance and they will not allow them to hide behind the official duty or the wrongful presentation of the legal provisions.

Animated reaction by the initiative “We deserve better” via GIPHY

 

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