Macedonia

What's New

  • 9 February 2015

    Macedonian Protestors File FOI Requests About Policy

    Besides marching in the street, Macedonian protesters against certain new taxes and fees are filing freedom of information requests about them. The charges on part-time workers and freelancers were supposed to go into effect Jan. 1. They have been the subject of several rallies in Skopje by several thousand persons. Payment for certain categories of […]

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  • 21 November 2013

    Belief in Access Rights Found Low in Macedonian Survey

    A “significant share” of citizens does not believe they enjoy the right to request information from public and state institutions, according to a survey conducted by the Foundation Open Society – Macedonia. The study, titled “Overcoming the principles of secrecy in the public administration’s operation,” says perceptions vary by subject matter. “Most often, citizens believe […]

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News Archive

  • 11 April 2013

    Group Asks Macedonian Leaders to Reject Report

    “Serious shortfalls’ exist in the latest annual report about access to public information in Macedonia, according to Foundation Open Society, which has called on government leaders to reject the report. The report by the Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information, covering 2012,  contains misinformation, the group charged in an […]

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  • 9 November 2012

    Five ‘Late’ Governments Report on OGP Activities

    Five governments that missed the April deadline to submit their Open Government Partnership national action plans have either submitted plans or are working on them, according to information provided by the OGP to FreedomInfo.org. The plans for two of the countries – Azerbaijan and Macedonia – are now posted (look under “related files”). The other […]

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  • 30 August 2012

    Macedonian Review Reveals Progress, Remaining Issues

    Government agencies are improving in their responsiveness to information requests, according to a new study by the Macedonian Young Lawyers Association (MYLA), but “some difficulties and problems were noted.” “More than two thirds of the information holders responded within the legal limit of 30 days and delivered the requested information,” according to the association’s announcement. […]

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  • 18 May 2012

    Azerbaijan, Macedonia, Paraguay, South Korea, Finish OGP Action Plans

    Azerbaijan, Macedonia, Paraguay and South Korea have completed their national action plans as part of the Open Government Partnership process. Their plans have not been posted, but will be soon, FreedomInfo.org has learned. Three other countries that joined the OGP last year still have not delivered their plans: Liberia, Ghana and Mongolia. The OGP co-chairs […]

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  • 2 September 2011

    17 Countries Pledge to Join Open Government Partnership

    Nine countries plus the initial core group of eight have pledged to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a U.S. official told FreedomInfo.org  Sept. 2, bringing total membership to 17. The nine countries that have sent in “letters of intent” are Kenya, Guatemala, Honduras, Albania, Macedonia, Malta, Georgia, Moldova and Slovakia. More letters are expected, […]

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  • 19 June 2009

    12 European Countries Sign First International Convention on Access to Official Documents

    Advocates Urge 37 Remaining Council of Europe Members to Sign Tromsø, Norway — On June 18, 2009, 12 of 47 member-states of the Council of Europe signed the Convention on Access to Official Documents, making history as the first international binding legal instrument that recognizes a general right of access to official documents held by public authorities. […]

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links

LEGAL DOCUMENTS

Constitution of Macedonia

 

Law on Free Access to Information of Public Character (2006)
[Macedonian version]
[Albanian translation]

 

ORGANIZATIONS

anticorruption.org.mk

 

OTHER RESOURCES

Article 19, Comments on the draft Macedonian Law on Free Access to Information of a Public Character (10 January 2006)

 

Article 19, 16 key recommended amendments to the draft Macedonian Law on Free Access to Public Information, 2005 (10 January 2006)

 

Article 19, Letter to Macedonian authorities on the Law on Free Access to Information (10 January 2006)

 

Article 19, Memorandum on the Proposal for the Adoption of the Law on Free Access to Information of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (31 Oct 2004)

 

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Click to view.

Text from the freedominfo.org Global Survey: Freedom of Information and Access to Government Records Around the World, by David Banisar (updated July 2006)

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Article 16 of the Constitution of Macedonia provides:

The freedom of speech, public address, public information and the establishment of institutions for public information is guaranteed. Free access to information and the freedom of reception and transmission of information are guaranteed.(1)

The Law on Free Access to Information of Public Character was adopted on 25 January 2006. It is scheduled to go into force in September 2006.(2)

The law allows any natural or legal person to obtain information from state and municipal bodies and natural and legal persons who are performing public functions. The requests can be oral, written or electronic. Requests must be responded to in 10 days.

There are exemptions for classified information, personal data, confidential information, tax violations, pending investigations, documents being compiled if it would cause misunderstanding, environmental protection, and protecting intellectual property. All the exemptions are subject to a test that requires release if the public interest is greater than the harm.

Denials can be appealed to the Commission for the Protection of the Right to Free Access to Information of Public Character. The Commission can decide on complaints. It is also tasked to ensure the law is implemented, publishes the list of information holders, issues opinions on other laws, trains public officials and compiles an annual report of all the statistics for requests in the previous year. The Commission was established in May 2006.

Appeals of decisions of the Commission can be filed in a court.

Public bodies are required to designate officials to be responsible for implementation of the act. The bodies are required to make public information on their organizations and structures, competencies, regulations, programs and activities, procurements, costs and publishing of decisions. They must maintain and regularly update and publish a list of information that they hold. They must also maintain detailed statistics on requests made and the final outcomes.

The law also provides for a limited whistleblower protection that limits sanctions for any public employee who discloses protected information that reveals abuses of power or corruption or that is for the prevention of serious threats to human health and life or the environment.

Fines can be imposed against officials who fail to follow various requirements of the law.

The Law on Classified Information was adopted in 2004 to implement EU and NATO standards on protections of secret information.(3) It creates four levels of classification. The Directorate for Security of Classified Information oversees the functioning of the law.

The Law on Personal Data Protection was adopted in January 2005, replacing a 1994 law.(4) Individuals have a right of access to their personal data held by public and private bodies.

Macedonia accepted the Aarhus Convention in July 1999. The 2005 Law on Environment provides for a right to access from government bodies and others supervised by the state.(5)

25 JANUARY 2006 Macedonian Parliament Adopts Long-Awaited Freedom of Information Law

On January 25, 2006, the Parliament of Macedonia adopted a FOI Law. The law will go into force on June 1, 2006. The law establishes the State Commission for free access, which would have authority to rule on complaints from individuals about the government's refusal to provide information, after publishing in Official Gazette of Macedonia. Free access to information and the freedom of reception and transmission of information are also guaranteed with the Article 16 of the Macedonian Constitution.

The non-governmental sector in Macedonia initiated process for drafting FOI law in July 2003. Since that time, civil society groups have been involved in organizing public hearing and debates and working to acheive needed improvements in the text of the draft law. Indeed, during this time, there were dramatic changes made to the proposed law and its adoption was postponed several times.

Earlier in January 2006, however, a letter signed by 126 Macedonia civil society organization called for the prompt adoption of the proposed law but also expressed several concerns about the provisions of the new law, including:

The law does not claim final authority in matters of freedom of information, and is vulnerable to being eclipsed by secrecy laws, such as the Classified Information Law.

Plans to establish a commission charged with hearing appeals and promoting implementation of the law have been dropped in favour of adjudication in the regular court system. Experience across many countries shows that an independent administrative complaints mechanism is essential to the effective functioning of an access to information system; court procedures are simply too lengthy and costly for the vast majority of potential information complainants.

The law does not contain a clear "harm test", which would stipulate that requests for information should never be refused unless disclosure would pose a serious risk of actual harm.

The law does not guarantee protection of whistleblowers

Unfortunately the concerns of the civil society were not taken into account when drafting the final version of the Law that passed the parliament. NGOs and FOI activists push for changes to the Law and hope that the Macedonian Parliament will adopt it taking into consideration their remarks and recommendations. Meanwhile, Macedonia remains the only country in the region that has not adopted a Freedom of Information Law.

 

Notes

Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia. http://www.usud.gov.mk/domino/WEBSUD.nsf/UstavE?OpenPage

Law on Free Access to Information of Public Character.

Law on Classified Information. http://www.mediacenter.org.mk/files//pdf/classlaw.pdf

Law on Personal Data Protection.

Law on Environment.

 

 

Measuring Openness

Global Right to Information Rating
A country-by-country rating of laws by the Centre for Democracy and Law and Access Info.

Freedom House
The Freedom in the World report.

World Bank
Worldwide Governance Indicators

Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index
Measures perceptions of the degree of corruption.

Reporters Without Borders
The Press Freedom Index.