Does the decision of the prosecution about abandoning criminal charges against someone present information of public significance in the sense of the law on free access to information of public significance, i.e. can it be considered that there is a justified interest of the public to be acquainted with such document, if an individual is specifically interested in this and not more people? (April 2007)
Following the provisions of Article 2 paragraph 1 of the law on free access to information of public significance (''The Official Gazzette of the Republic of Serbia'' No. 120/04) the term information of public significance entails every information with which the agencies of public authorities dispose, which has been established in their work or in relation to their work and which is included in a specific document, and is related to what the public has a justified interest in being acquainted with.
As regards the existence of a justified interest of the public to be acquainted, one should bear in mind the provisions of article 4 of the law on free access to information of public significance (''The Official Gazzette of the Republic of Serbia'' No. 120/04) following which it is believed that there is a legal assumption about the justified interest of everyone in access to information of public significance, whereby it is the obligation of the agencies of the authorities to prove, if they believe differently. To prove that there is not a justified interest of the public to be acquainted is not possible when it is a question of information related to endangering, i.e. protection of health of the population and the environment.
In this sense, the information included in the documents of the prosecution cases, specifically in the decision about abandoning criminal charges is information of public significance in the sense of this law, and as information about the work of the prosecution as a government agency, is of interest to the public, everybody under equal conditions, in accordance with article 5 and 6 of the law.
The law on free access to information of public significance defines the exceptions, i.e. conditions when access to information of public significance can be excluded or limited, for the protection of privacy and other personal rights or the protection of severe violation of a more prevailing interest based on the constitution or law in which case the agency of the authorities is obliged to prove the existence of such prevailing interests and their severe violation in case of disclosure of the requested information. Only in such situations do the agencies of the authorities prove that the public interest to be acquainted is not justified, i.e. that there is a higher interest which should be protected. And in such situations, if the requested information in the document can be singled out from the others which should be protected, the agency of the authorities will enable access to the requester to the part of the document containing the singled out information in accordance with article 12 of the law.