Is person enquiring information of public importance obliged to pay any fee for certain expenses? (July 2005)3
The answer is contained in the Press Release made by the Commissioner on 19 July 2005 on the occasion of addressing several citizens and mass-media representatives relating to that issue:
„Under the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance is provided for that information about whether a government body holds certain information is free of charge. The Law also explicitly prescribes that the insight into the document containing the solicited information is also free of charge.
For drawing up and forwarding a copy of the document subject to the request the obligation of payment of compensation of necessary expenses is set forth by the Law. The amount of such compensation should be calculated according to a bill of charges laid down by the Government of the Republic of Serbia.
The Government still has not adopted such a bill of charges. As Commissioner, as far back as several months ago, I initiated the adoption of that rule and I hope that within a reasonable time the Government will fulfil its statutory obligation. By that time, the lack of bill of charges should not impede the exercising of rights of citizens and mass media guaranteed by the Law. Proceeding from that, I recommend to government bodies always to bear in mind that the obligation of a possible compensation of charges should not exceed the amount of obligatory expenses.
As far as mass media are concerned, certainly, for them of a particular importance is provision of the Art. 17, section 4 of the Law, according to which journalists, when requiring a copy of a document in order to perform their profession, are exempt from payment of compensation of expenses. Under the same provision, associations for protection of human rights are also exempt from compensation when they require a copy of a document in order to exercise goals of the associations, as well as each person seeking for information concerning health protection of population and environmental protection ."
Meanwhile, on 27 January 2006, the Government adopted a Decree, regulating fees for obligatory expenses incurred for releasing of copies of the documents containing information of public importance. The Decree has been published in „Official Gazette of the RS" No. 8/06.