As soon as possible to resolve misuse in the process of collecting signatures for presidential candidates

The State Election Commission, The Basic State Prosecutor’s Office, and the Constitutional Court should react in the shortest possible time in order to solve the problem of misuse of personal data in the process of collecting signatures for presidential candidates, said the Director of Legal Department at the Centre for Monitoring and Research (CeMI), Bojan Božović.

He said, visiting the “Reflector” TV Show on Television Vijesti, that it is necessary to find a more effective mechanism for the protection of passive voting right to willingly sing for the candidate they support.

“This is an alarm for all relevant institutions in Montenegro because this issue must be ended. Key failings in this election process relate to legal shortcomings in our legislation. On the other hand, we have insufficient activity of those institutions that should react in the shortest possible time, not with the intention to get rid of responsibility, but to solve the problem “, said Božović.

He said that in addition to State Election Commission, the Basic State Prosecutor’s Office and the Constitutional Court also have big responsibility.

“By the Criminal Code, Article 412, it is clearly indicated that the forgery of public documents is a criminal offense punishable by a sentence of three to five years in prison, depending on the form of forgery. Each public document is the one that is released into public turnover. We have this shortcoming that the Law on the Election of Members of Parliament is very poor to this issue and does not provide a solution for such situations, “Božović said.

He appealed that competent institutions and citizens investigate and react if misuse of their personal data has occurred.

“All citizens should go through this procedure, check whether their names are misused and, if they think they are, to file a criminal complaint, contact the Basic State Prosecutor’s Offices“, said Božović.

He said that voters could bear responsibility if, without knowing that their data had already been abused, they gave their signature to another candidate.

“Raising suspicion in the electoral process could contribute to a certain group of citizens enter in additional apathy and give up the possibility of signing, which would bring the electoral process into question. That is why it is very important that the competent institutions respond as quickly and efficiently as possible”, said Božović.

He said that NGOs, as accredited observers, do not have the ability to interfere in judicial processes, but that they will appeal to competent institutions to resolve disputed issues.

I believe that in this process absolutely everyone is losing. A shadow is thrown at this election process and it must be removed as soon as possible and we must not allow it to be repeated. It is very important to provide all accredited observers with insights into the lists because we are a legitimate part of the process. Monitoring each segment is a necessary condition for fair and free elections, ” said Božović.

He said that the issue of electoral legislation should be reopened, because, as he pointed out, there are no adequate legal solutions to issues such as the start of the election campaign.

“All presidential candidates must run until March 26, but campaigns have begun much earlier. This raises the question of how the Report will be made and in what form. The funds that will be distributed to candidates are not small and insignificant, especially if there are candidates who will have 200 or 300 votes, and allegedly they have collected eight thousand signatures. All these issues must be regulated, and the law must be respected”, said Božović.

He said that, if personal data was misused, it was necessary to determine whether the presidential candidates or individuals in their teams who collected the signatures were responsible, or someone else.

Božović believes that the State Election Commission should react, because the candidates for whom the candidacies are recognized as valid will be preferred in relation to those who will again have to collect signatures, due to irregularities.

“It is irrelevant about who it is and how strong their individual power is. What we must secure is the right to the equal chances of each candidate and, on the other hand, the protection of citizens. The question is how far it is fair to annul candidacies to the previous candidates, because, hypothetically speaking, it is possible that those candidates did not know at all that there were certain misuses”, Božović said.

The broadcast is available on the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpT21Kr1zlk

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