Progress, But Still Problems, Says Serbian Commissioner

30 September 2014

This article, published Sept. 30, is reprinted with permission from

BELGRADE – Serbia has made certain progress in the area of freedom of access to information of public importance, but the fact that the office of the commissioner for information of public importance and personal data protection continues to receive a large number of complaints shows that a considerable number of problems still remains, Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection Rodoljub Sabic stated on Friday.

For years on end, we have recorded a recognisable continuity in both the positive and negative aspects of the implementation of the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance, Sabic told Tanjug to mark September 28, the International Right to Know Day.

Around 1,000 requests for free access to information of public importance are filed in Serbia on various levels every day, and the requests are granted on a daily basis, Sabic said.

Incidents are still being reported and some pieces of information can be obtained only after an intervention by the commissioner, and at times not even the intervention can produce results, Sabic said.

This calls for a serious thought about irrationality, corruption and crime, and individuals running public enterprises and bodies who are depriving the public of such information need to show more consideration, Sabic said.

He stated that certain pieces of information should be available to everyone even without a special request and should be made public via electronic presentations and websites of bodies, which should become a standard.

The information pages often lack the information about the management of public funding, goods and resources which should be indisputable, Sabic said and added that the route of public funds needs to be clear, visible and accessible for the widest public.

Among negative examples, he listed the Ministry of Finance which according to him has had the obligation for the past five years to post the register on their website listing the number of employees and the costs in the public sector, but this register has not been released to date although the law on the matter was adopted back in 2009. Sabic warned that the government bodies and ministries have not launched a single procedure against those who are violating the law.

The International Right to Know Day was established back in 2002 and its first formal celebration was organised a year later.

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