Amending the Law on Free Access to Public Information (Ministry of Justice) (MK0062)
Amending the Law on Free Access to Public Information (Ministry of Justice)
IRM End of Term Status Summary
VIII. FOI: Legal Reform
Commitment 3.9: Amending FOI Law
Commitment Text: 3.9. Amending the Law on Free Access to Public Information
Commitment 3.10: Working Group on CoE FOI Convention
Commitment Text: 3.10. Establishing of inter-sector working group for determining the compliance with the Convention of the Council of Europe for access to public documents and setting national legal requirements for accession to the Convention.
Responsible institution(s): Ministry of Justice
Supporting institution(s): Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information
Start Date: 1/9/2014 End Date: 30/9/2015
These two commitments focused on developing the legislative framework for protecting the right to access information in Macedonia. This was done by amending the legislation and preparing to ratify the Council of Europe’s (CoE) Convention that the country signed before joining OGP.
Commitment 3.9: Substantial
Commitment 3.10: Not started
Parliament adopted amendments to the law in August 2015.[Note 59: Published in the Official Gazette No. 148/2015, 31 August 2015.] The changes did not reflect the needs and priorities identified during public consultations on the OGP action plan. Instead, they dealt mainly with restructuring fines. The self-assessment did not discuss progress on commitment 3.10 (working group on CoE FOI Convention), and the IRM researcher found no progress.
For more information, please see the 2014-2016 IRM midterm report.
End of term
Commitment 3.9: Complete
Commitment 3.10: Not started
Second amendments to the FOI Law were adopted in March 2016. The process was led by the Ministry of Justice, and did not include the Commission, OGP working group, or the working group established earlier to facilitate implementation.[Note 60: IRM review of the working group communication and information submitted.] The amendments were mostly technical. In its end-term report, the government stated that it had established an inter-ministerial working group on the Council of Europe Convention. The IRM review found no evidence for this, however. Additionally, the FOI Commission had no information about joining an inter-ministerial working group.[Note 61: IRM personal Interview with Commission representatives in OGP Working groups.]
Did it open government?
Access to information: Did not change
At the time this report was written, civil society organisations were contesting the use of the FOI law. The European Commission noted a decrease in the amount of information made public.[Note 62: EC, Annual Progress Report for 2016, 12.] In addition, the 2016 amendments to the law did not impact the law’s implementation, since they were technical in nature. The government in the new action plan notes that limited access to information is mainly due to mutual refusals, as well as the failure of public institutions to either provide access to information, or make them available proactively. As a result, the level of transparency is inadequate.[Note 63: Third OGP Action Plan (2016-2018), 25.]
The commitments were not carried forward. As there are significant shortcomings in the legal framework and the extensive scope of the exemptions,[Note 64: SIGMA, Baseline Measurement Report: The Principles of Public Administration, (OECD: 2015), 63 [available at: http://bit.ly/2d1Xdoc]. ] the IRM researcher recommends that the government reconsider commitments to further support implementation.