Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro

Popa: Free access to public information empowers citizens

24/06/2021 - 14:53
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Information is power

 

The right to freely access information is a fundamental right enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and in the Montenegrin Constitution and in the EU Fundamental Rights Charter. It is also an important element in the EU accession negotiations and a tool for holding governments to account, said the EU Ambassador to Montenegro Oana Cristina Popa at the roundtable on the innovated draft Law on Amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information.

 

“Now more than ever information is power and free access to public information empowers citizens to be active participants in the democratic process. Secrecy provides fertile ground for corruption. An efficient and citizen-oriented administration should ensure access to relevant documents for all, especially for watchdog organisations and journalists who otherwise would not be able to perform their work professionally, in the interest of citizens,” said Popa.

As Popa stated, the latest Commission’s non-paper on the state of play regarding Chapters 23 and 24 notes that the current law on free access to information has not contributed to increasing the accountability and transparency of the public service.

“It is, therefore, of paramount importance to finalise the work on the new legislative framework that would improve the proactive sharing of public information and take into account concerns of all relevant stakeholders, including the civil society organisations,” said Popa.

At the roundtable held at the EU Info Centre, Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic said that the government is absolutely committed to increasing transparency.

 

“We want to break with some previous practices. I don't want anything to be a secret anymore," said Abazovic on the innovated Draft Law on Amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information (FAI).

He said that the previous government put secrecy marks on privatisations by persons who were not authorised to do so.

The Minister of Public Administration, Digital Society and Media, Tamara Srzentic specifically thanked the NGOs that sent suggestions to the Law on FIA.

 

“We need to change the consciousness and existing practices. Democracy will be stronger when everyone has free access to information," Srzentic said.

The public debate on the innovated text of the Draft Law on Amendments to the Law on FAI began on 4 June and ended with a roundtable.

The Ministry of Public Administration, Digital Society and the Media previously called for participation in the discussion "in order to contribute to the improvement of the proposed solutions, with the aim of creating a transparent and open society."

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