Source: Glas javnosti
Transition thwarted in Belgrade (8)Nevertheless, I can say that the Ministry did not invoke any of the reasons referred to in Articles 9-14 of the Law in the letter sent to you, and the arguments presented in the letter are irrelevant in this context, Mr. Sabic said.
On request form “Kurir” after the reports in “Glas Javnosti” and “Kurir” on 3 November in the sixth sequel of the story on the thwarting of transition in Belgrade and rejecting of the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning to enable access to documentation in connection with the issuing of refurbishment permit to the Serbian Radical Party, Commissioner for Information of Public Importance Rodoljub Sabic answered as follows:
“As per your request to state my opinion on the actions of the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning in connection with the request for free access to information contained in the documentation on refurbishment of the former building of the Central Committee of the Communist Party which is kept at the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, I would first of all like to remind you about the provisions of Articles 5 and 16 of the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance.
Among other things, Article 5 stipulates that every person has the right to access information of public importance by enabling the insight in a document containing that information, the right to a copy of that document and the right to receive a copy of a document on request by mail, fax, e-mail or in some other way. Article 16 provides for the way in which the authority to which a request is sent should act, or decide on a request, stipulates general and specific deadlines for exercise of the right and, which is particularly important, sets the way in which a request for information should be rejected if public authorities find that conditions set by the Law for that are met. In such situations, it is expressly provided for under the Law that public authorities must pass decisions on rejection of a request, to explain it in writing and to refer requester to legal remedy against it in decisions.
Thus, starting from the content of the abovementioned provisions, two things are obvious. First, the request for information in the particular case is legitimate; it refers to information of public importance. The subject of such request is information created in the work or in connection with the work of a public authority and it is irrelevant whether it is administrative, court or some other process, if it is single or multi-party process, if the requester is a party in a process etc. Secondly, the public authority did not handle the request according to the Law. Thus, it neither passed a decision on rejecting of the request, nor invoked any of the reasons set by law on which rejecting could be based, nor gave a particular message on legal remedy.
As regards the possibility to deny or limit the freedom to access information in order to protect some other, also legitimate and prevailing interests in the particular case, envisaged by provisions of Articles 9-14 of the Law, I cannot say anything about that on this occasion. Since it is possible that I could lead the proceeding in this legal matter in case of possible complaint, it could prejudice the outcome. Nevertheless, I can say that the Ministry did not invoke any of the reasons referred to in Articles 9-14 of the Law in the letter sent to you, and the arguments presented in the letter are irrelevant in this context. Whether the abovementioned reasons possibly exist must be determined and stated by the authority of first instance itself and then, in case of possible complaint, the Commissioner must check this. And until the existence of these reasons is proved, there is an assumption in favour of the right of the public to know.”