Does the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance ("Official Gazette of the RS" No.120/04) pertain also to the government bodies of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro?
Answer is contained within the press release - the statement prepared for public information made by the Commissioner on 15 August 2005, addressing citizens and mass-media, indicating existence of certain number of requests for protection of rights, and appeals, according to which, although they express a justified importance of the public, the Commissioner, due to statutory reasons, cannot act:
„There are, in general, two groups of such requests. Both of them have in common that they do not fall within competence of the Commissioner, but in all other respects, the legal situations concerning them are essentially different.
First group encompasses requests for protection of rights, and appeals on procedures of six government bodies, against which, according to the Art. 22, section 2 of the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance, no appeal can be made to the Commissioner. The public authorities in question are the National Assembly, President of the Republic, Government of the Republic, Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, and Public Prosecutor of the Republic. However, it does not mean that these authorities are not covered by the Law, nor that the possibility for citizens to require protection of their rights is excluded. The Law applies to these government bodies in full, however, the protection of the rights cannot be exercised through application of the appeal to the Commissioner, but through administrative proceedings before the Supreme Court.
A serious problem exists in relation to the second group of requests. Namely, these requests refer to information held by the public authorities of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. From the viewpoint of exercising right of free access to information, the situation in this area is incommensurately worse. The Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance, as the Law of the Republic, does not apply to them. So, in this case, not only that the Commissioner is not in charge of, but there are also no authorities competent to protect the right of free access to information, nor there is any regulated legal way towards them.
The current situation has to be changed. The number of cases which indicate an evident growing importance of the public in numerous information resulting from or in relation to the work of the authorities of the State Union, is on increase. In a democratic society, the legitimacy of such importance is an indisputable fact. Therefore it is very important for competent government bodies of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, as soon as possible, to regulate the way and to enable exercising of the right to access to information they dispose of.