HomePress Releases and Publications”SAVAMALA CASE" – OF MORE THAN OBVIOUSLY LEGITIMATE PUBLIC INTEREST
Thursday, 14 September 2017 10:51
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Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection ordered the First Basic Public Prosecutor's Office in Belgrade to provide a copy of the reports which had been submitted by the Police Directorate of the Serbian Interior Ministry to the Higher Public Prosecutor's Office in Belgrade, to the journalist of the Criminal Investigation and Corruption Network KRIK, in connection with the case of demolition in Hercegovacka Street.

The first Basic Public Prosecutor's Office rejected the request for access to information submitted by the KRIK journalist, confirming that it held the requested reports, and arguing that a pre-trial procedure was in progress, and that the exercise of the right to access information could jeopardize the conduct of the pre-trial procedure.

Acting at the appeal filed by the KRIK journalist against this resolution, the Commissioner assessed that the appeal was founded, and that the first instance authority had erred when it rejected the filed request. The fact that the information may be used in further proceedings, i.e. that they would be a subject of an assessment and a base for the public prosecutor's actions, is not in itself an obstacle to making this information available to the public. The fact that the process is in progress, and authority’s assumption that access to information could interfere with further conduct and the respective completion are not enough of a reason for the first instance body to deny access to the information requested, as, according to the law, the first instance authority is obliged to prove undoubtedly that the requested access would severely affect further proceedings.

It should be borne in mind that by the time of the demolition of buildings in Hercegovacka Street, in the night between 24 and 25 April 2016, the pre-investigation procedure was not even completed, although the legal provisions lay down that at least that procedure should have already been completed. The provisions of Article 296, of the CPC, inter alia, stipulate that the investigation shall be initiated no later than 30 days from the date when the public prosecutor was informed of the first evidence that the police took.

The first Basic Public Prosecutor's Office did not provide any evidence that the public's access to the information would jeopardize the course of the proceedings, while at the same time, numerous facts confirmed and indicated that public had a justified interest. This is evidenced by numerous media articles, and even citizen public protests. Besides, the state body of the Ombudsman, upon citizens' complaints, found serious failures in the actions of the state bodies, which additionally raised public interest. Finally, even the European Parliament, at the adoption of the Resolution on the EU Commission Progress Report for Serbia 2016, on 14 June 2017, stated in paragraph 14, that it "took note with concern about controversial events in the Savamala district of Belgrade, especially in terms of demolition of private property, worrying about the fact that after a full year there had been no progress in the investigation, which is why it called for a quick resolution of the problem in order to bring the perpetrators to justice. "

With this in mind, it is indisputable that in the concrete case, the public's interest to know, is far too prevalent over the interests to which the First Basic Public Prosecution referred formally, without any real arguments that would justify the limiting the rights.

Also, the Commissioner, acting at the appeal of the same information seeker, issued a resolution with a more or less identical order to the Ministry of the Interior, which previously at the request of the information seeker had not responded at all within the legally prescribed deadline, and which afterwards pleaded about the allegations of the appeal, at the request filed by the Commissioner.

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  • Version in Serbian only

    Збирни месечни статистички подаци у области доступности информацијама и заштите података о личности

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Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection

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