Irresponsible and frivolous actions of the anti-corruption agency

Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection has issued a resolution, ordering the Anti-Corruption Agency to provide the journalist of the Criminal Investigation and Corruption Network – KRIK, the requested information, i.e. a copy of the report submitted on 17/12/2015, by the Agency to the Prosecutor's Office for Organized Crime, after conducting an inspection of the report on the property and revenues of the official, Aleksandar Vulin, while at the same time, protecting the personal data such as: names and surnames of all persons other than the official, Aleksandar Vulin, address data, personal registration number of citizens, bank account numbers of natural persons, data on the addresses where the real estates are located, vehicle registration plate numbers, and the like.

Previously, the Agency rejected the request of the information seeker on the grounds that the accompanying documentation contained data that the Administration for the Prevention of Money Laundering had classified as secret.

The information seeker appealed to the Commissioner against the decision of the Agency, stating, inter alia, that the copy of the report was requested, and not a copy of the supporting documents, and that even if the report contained confidential or personal data, the Agency could have protected them.

The Commissioner found that the appeal was founded.

Pursuant to the Law on the Law on Data Secrecy, for a certain information to be protected as secret, it is necessary to designate it as such by a person respectively authorized, through a written and reasoned resolution. The Agency, however, mentioned neither through which decision and what authorized person it was designated a secret, nor a degree of the data secrecy contained in the requested document, thus providing no evidence as to whether, after all, the decision was under Article 11, of the Law on Data Secrecy.

Also, although undoubtedly required by the law, the Agency provided no evidence of the underlying link between the potential disclosure of the requested document and the harmful consequences that could possibly arise against the interests of the Republic of Serbia.

Finally, since the report relates to the controlling of property and income of an official, according to the very nature of the matter, it cannot be expected to contain the data under Article 8, paragraph 2, of the Law on Secrecy of Data, whose disclosure would cause damage to the interests of the Republic of Serbia, within the meaning of the data relating to the national security of the Republic of Serbia, public security, defense foreign policy, security and intelligence affairs of public authorities, relations between the Republic of Serbia and other countries, international organizations, etc.

In addition, what should particularly be borne in mind, is that in the concrete case, it is about the information on a senior state official, which undeniably roused a justified, increased public interest.

The Commissioner estimates the Agency’s attitude as unacceptable, which, having ignored the explicit legal provision of Article 26, paragraph 2, of the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance, did not submit, even after a repeated request, the required report to the Commissioner. This is about a procedure that, regardless of the motive, objectively is an attempt to obstruct the Commissioner's powers.

The "excuses" for such a gesture, that only recently an employee of the Agency has become certified to handle classified information, which is why the Agency "does not have the necessary capacities for delivering classified information outside the premises", the Commissioner, without going into motives, considers as irresponsible and unserious. And if the Agency has not been able to apply the Law on Secrecy of Data, even after eight years of its validity, that means that the Agency has been continuously, for years, committing a large number of offenses and criminal offenses envisaged by the Law on Data Secrecy, which should have certainly attracted the attention of other competent authorities, the Prosecutor's Office and the Ministry of Justice.