On the occasion of the addressing of a large number of journalists and citizens in connection with the increased volume of work in the Commissioner's Office during the last month, in order to inform the public, the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection indicates the following:
Five related persons from Vranje in the period from August 1, 2022. until September 2, 2022. filed 4,614 complaints in the area of access to information. This number of appeals already significantly exceeds the five-year average of 4121.2 appeals, which is the average annual statement of all appellants. Based on the facts established so far, the conclusion is imposed that this is a serious abuse of the right to access information, contrary to the meaning and spirit of the law. Out of 4,614 complaints received, the Commissioner resolved 1,431 complaints and for all resolved complaints it was determined that they were not founded, that is, it was determined that the public authorities to which the requests were submitted actually acted on those requests. The fact that the mentioned persons filed complaints against the response of the public authorities just two days after filing complaints due to the so-called "silence of the administration" clearly indicates that they deliberately misrepresented the fact that the public authorities did not act on requests for access to information. Also, identical requests were filed by five related persons in short periods of time to the same authorities, with the immediate filing of complaints to the Commissioner. Many public authorities contact the Commissioner on a daily basis, pointing out that five related persons from Vranje continuously submit an enormous number of requests for access to information, being aware of and using the well-known fact that it is the annual vacation leave time, so due to the amount of information requested, many employees had to give up using annual leave or to postpone it. In addition, the delivery of letters to the mentioned appellants is very difficult. From all of the above, it is clear that this is not about the usual use of one of the basic human rights - the right to access information, but about dishonorable and dishonest motives of related parties, for which there is no basis in law.
In connection with the situation, all the capacities of the Commissioner have been engaged to the maximum extent, not only to enable all citizens of the Republic of Serbia to freely exercise their rights, the protection which falls under the competence of the Commissioner (the right to access information of public importance and the right to personal data protection) but also to prevent negative financial consequences for the budget of the Republic of Serbia.
In addition, the Commissioner undertakes all measures to solve the problem in a systemic way, which, among other things, includes notifying relevant authorities, as well as initiating certain legal changes.
Regardless of the above, the Commissioner appeals to all public authorities to consistently apply the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance and to act on requests in accordance with the Law, because this is the only appropriate way to respond to this challenging situation and to preserve its meaning and the spirit of the right to access information of public importance, which represents one of the most important values in any democratic, transparent and open society. The Commissioner also reminds that administrative silence on requests for access to information is unacceptable and punishable as a misdemeanor and that the Commissioner will consistently apply his powers to issue misdemeanor orders and submit requests to initiate misdemeanor proceedings in case of violation of the provisions of the Law.