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IRIS 2005-1:10/17

Serbia and Montenegro

Law on Free Access to Information

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Miloš Živković

Belgrade University School of Law - Živković Samardžić Law offices

The Parliament of Serbia adopted the Act on Free Access to Information of Public Interest at its session held on 2 November 2004. The Act was promulgated and published on 5 November 2004, and came into force on 13 November 2004. Along with the Act on Broadcasting 2002, the Act on Public Information 2003 and the Act on Advertising which is planned to be passed soon, the Act on Free Access to Information of Public Interest should comprise a complete legal framework for the full enjoyment of freedom of expression in Serbia. The Act is divided into ten chapters. First the "Basic Provisions" (articles 1 to 8) define the right to know, i.e. the right to access to information held by the state and its entities, as well as the term "information of public interest". A special panel for Information of Public Interest is to be established as an independent state organ. Chapter one also contains the guarantee of the principle of equality, prohibition of discrimination against journalists or media outlets as well as general conditions for limiting the right to access to information. The second chapter (articles 9 to 14) deals with exclusions and limitations of the right to access to information, spelling out cases in which the state entity shall not be obliged to provide information it possesses to a person making a request. The third chapter (articles 15 to 21) contains provisions about the procedure of obtaining information from the state entity, which is a special administrative procedure. In the following chapters it is explained how the (complaints-) procedure at the panel works, how the panel is to be elected and what powers it will have. Furthermore there are details regarding compensation for damages and the supervision of implementation. The act concludes with penal and final provisions. The panel for Information of Public Interest should be elected within 45 days from the day the act came into force. By electing the panel and subsequent establishment of its office in Belgrade, all of the preconditions for implementation of this act shall be in place, so its full implementation is expected as of the beginning of 2005.

  Act on Free Access to Information of Public Interest, Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia 120/04, 2 November 2004 EN